A closeup image of a pasta meal

What can you eat with braces?

What can you eat with braces?

What food should you avoid?
The Definitive Guide

January 20, 2023
7 min read

Wearing braces can present a few culinary challenges, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your favorite foods. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you should be able to enjoy a wide range of healthy meals while keeping your teeth and brackets safe. Read on to find out the best foods to eat with braces and helpful tips for creating delicious dishes that won’t compromise your orthodontic treatment.

The Goldilocks Zone

If you wear orthodontic appliances such as braces, you might be wondering what foods you can eat while wearing them. Truthfully? You can eat almost everything. The better question is: what can’t you eat? There are much fewer foods to list.

As a rule of thumb, anything hard, crunchy, or chewy, needs to be evaluated. For example, if you eat certain cereals raw, you will knock brackets off all over the place. If you let the cereal dissolve and soften in milk before eating, your brackets and teeth will be fine. As another example, some bread crusts are very crunchy and hard (French bread). If you bite into a hard or very hearty/chewy bread without cutting it up into small pieces and gingerly chewing and allowing it to dissolve in your mouth, your bracket will most likely be knocked off.

There is no limit to the foods you can eat except for the consistency of the food itself. Think about eating food with braces as trying to find the “Goldilocks zone” of eating foods that are “just right.” When you eat, slow down and evaluate the food. If the food seems to be consistently soft you should be fine. If on the other hand, there are hard, crunchy, and chewy areas, that will be risky to eat. The onus is on you, to do the proper evaluation and think first before eating anything. Hard dark chocolate bars could be a problem and break brackets, while milk chocolate bars might be fine. Frozen foods are generally not a good idea. We could create a list miles long about things that will and could potentially knock brackets off, but in truth you can eat pretty much all of those foods on the list if you are careful.

Anything hard, crunchy, and chewy needs to be evaluated carefully. Concerning hard candy, anything you think you are going to suck on until it dissolves completely... think again! People always chew on those last small remnants and those small remnants WILL pop brackets off.

Identify Foods That You Can Enjoy

There are plenty of foods that you can enjoy while wearing braces! Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains are all a good choice as they won’t be too hard on your braces or teeth. Again, meat that is slow cooked or especially soft and cut into small bites will probably be just fine to eat. If meat is really tough or charred and has a bit of toughness, do not eat it. Soft fruits like melons, kiwi and berries also do not require much chewing so they can be a bracket safe addition to your daily diet if you have braces.

Charred chicken on the grill
Eating charred chicken like in this picture is not recommended
The crunchiness will most likely knock off braces

Get Familiar with Crunchy and Soft Options

It is important to familiarize yourself with both crunchy and soft options when creating meals. While crunchy items like whole raw apples, nuts, and carrots should be limited, they are still a part of a healthy diet for those with braces if apples are cut, nuts are ground/cut up, and carrots are cooked.

Similarly, soft foods like boiled eggs and bananas are also okay in moderation. Try to remember that braces don’t have to limit your food choices — it is just important to make sure that you opt for softer or easily chewed options more often than not.

Learn to Avoid Chewy, Gooey, Sticky Foods

Chewy, gooey, or sticky foods are a no-go when you have braces. Sticky candy and chewy granola bars can cause problems by getting caught easily in the wires. Additionally, many of these types of foods contain sugar — which should be avoided in excess due to dental health concerns. Make sure to stay away from gummies, hard pretzels, hard popcorn kernels, and anything else that is too chewy when you have braces.

A mountain of gummy bears
Gummy bears can and will knock off braces
Please refrain from eating and choose softer and less chewy options

Pre-Chew Hard and Crunchy Foods

To avoid major dental issues, it is best to get in the habit of pre-chewing hard and crunchy foods by cutting foods into much smaller bites or by biting down softly on bigger pieces and slowly letting the food dissolve. Foods like apples, carrots, and celery should be cut into small bite-sized pieces before eating. You can also opt for softer varieties of these foods, such as applesauce or mashed potatoes. Cutting up or pre-chewing your food may take some getting used to but it can help protect your braces from extra stress and create a more pleasant eating experience overall.

A knife and cutting board with vegetables on the side ready to be chopped and sliced
"Prechewing" or simply chopping your food makes a huge difference in making food safe to eat with braces

Sticky Foods to Avoid

Sticky foods may be tasty, but they can wreak havoc on braces! These foods can pull brackets off, can get stuck in the braces, or in many cases, bend or break the wire. Please refrain from sticky foods, including:

  • Caramel candy
  • Dried fruits
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Starburst
  • Licorice
  • Skittles
  • Snickers
  • Fruit roll-ups
  • Chewy granola bars
  • Mentos
  • Gummy bears

Hard Foods to Avoid

Please refrain from any and all hard foods. With enough force, orthodontic brackets can easily be knocked loose and dislodged from the tooth. An appointment is required to fix loose brackets. Knocking brackets off hinders tooth movement and may result in longer treatment time.

Two ice cubes melting on a white table
Sucking on or chewing ice cubes is one of the worst foods for damaging teeth and damaging braces

We strongly discourage eating the following foods during your braces treatment:

  • Ice
  • Suckers
  • Jaw Breaker candies
  • Life Savers
  • Thick chips
  • Hard taco shells
  • Popcorn (hidden kernels can easily pop brackets off your teeth)
  • Corn on the cob
  • Whole apples (please cut them into small pieces and enjoy)
  • Bagels
  • Hard Pretzels
  • Nuts and seeds (refrain from any candy containing nuts too!)
  • French bread with hard crust
  • Chips
  • Hard pizza crust
  • Carrots (please cut and cook to soften)

Sugary Foods to Avoid

Sugary foods can cause tooth decay. Having brackets on your teeth can make it a bit more difficult to keep teeth clean. It is advised to minimize sugary foods in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

  • Pop / soda
  • Pie
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Sports drinks (including Gatorade)
  • Sweet tea
  • Candy
  • Tang
  • Kool-aid
  • Fruit drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweetened waters

What Do I Do If My Bracket Popped Off?

If a bracket is knocked off, please call the office immediately to schedule an appointment for repair. Please, do not wait for your next appointment to inform us of a broken bracket or loose wire. Every day that goes by without repair may add time to your total treatment time. We advise patients to get into the habit of regularly checking for loose brackets or loose wires.

What Foods Can I Eat the First Week I Have Braces?

Most people describe their first day of having Invisalign or braces a bit painful. Tooth soreness is unavoidable with Invisalign or braces, but most patients that use our patented braces - Skarin System - say they feel “pressure” on their teeth instead of pain.

To keep discomfort to a minimum on the first day and through the first week of having braces, Dr. Skarin suggests to his patients to eat soft foods or liquids until the soreness subsides. Here are some foods that we would suggest.

  • Tater tots
  • Spaghetti
  • Pasta / noodles
  • Soft bread
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies
  • Ice cream

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