Dental braces are traditionally made from metal brackets and wires, though more modern types sometimes are constructed from ceramic material. There are certain foods and beverages that are inappropriate for those who wear braces because they can bend or dislodge the braces. However, the list of things you cannot eat and drink with braces is actually quite short. As long as you bite and chew carefully, you'll find that you can still enjoy most of your favorite foods.
Most foods you would eat normally are fine when you have braces. You may want to start out with soft, semi-solid items such as soup, milkshakes, applesauce and smoothies if your jaw is sore. However, once you adjust to your braces, you can consume nearly all foods and beverages. The dentist will likely recommend you cut back on sugary and starchy foods, such as pasta, cake, cookies and bread, because they can become trapped in the braces and cause tooth decay. They are fine every once in a while.
Though you may be technically capable of eating certain items, you should prepare your foods in a way that makes them easier to bite and chew. Slice hard foods, such as apples and carrots, into bite-sized pieces. Strip foods that you would normally bite down on with your front teeth, such as chicken wings and corn on the cob, before putting them in your mouth. Cut chewy meats, including cured meats such as jerky, into small bites.
You will have to alter your chewing style to avoid snapping a bracket on hard or chewy items. Chew all foods with your back teeth, and never use your front teeth to rip a bite of food off a larger piece.
Foods to Avoid
You should never eat sticky foods, such as taffy, caramel and chewing gum, when you have braces. You should also avoid popcorn, because the hulls can get stuck between your brackets and cause gum inflammation and infection. Fresh, chewy bread products, such as bagels, can also damage your braces, and many dentists recommend you avoid them. Soda and other ultra-sugary beverages can cause extensive tooth decay if they work their way between your teeth and the wires.
Eating forbidden foods while you have braces can damage the brackets and wires. If this occurs, and you do not have your braces repaired quickly, your treatment time may be lengthened. This is because after the braces are repaired, the orthodontist will need to restart the process of slowly tightening the mechanism to get your teeth in the correct position.
When you get braces, you most likely will have to modify some parts of your diet to protect them. Some foods can break the wires and dislodge the brackets. If this happens, you will have to immediately see your orthodontist to have your braces repaired as broken wires and dislodged brackets can rub on the inside of your mouth and cause sores. Abstaining from foods that could damage your braces is important to prevent injury and extended treatment time.
Hard Foods and Candies
Hard fruits, vegetables, snacks, nuts and candies are off limits if you have braces. You can eat fruits, such as apples and pears, if they are chopped up into small pieces, but biting into a fresh apple is not allowed. Raw carrots and corn on the cob are also restricted. Nuts, such as peanuts and almonds, are too hard to chew as well and could damage your braces. Tortilla chips, taco shells, hard pizza crust and pretzels are also off limits. Hard candies such as peppermints and lollipops are restricted unless you suck on them instead of biting them.
Sticky Candies and Snacks
You should not eat sticky candies, such as taffy, caramels and gummies, while you have braces. They can stick to your teeth and your wires and brackets, possibly damaging them. Other sticky snacks, such as fruit roll ups, can cause the same problems. Choose candies that melt easily and that you do not have to chew.
High Acidity Foods
Foods that have high acidity, such as lemons, limes and sodas, can damage the enamel on your teeth and cause discoloration. Once your braces are removed you will be able to see where the brackets were if you ate or drank a lot of highly acidic fruits and beverages.
Chewing gum and bubblegum are not allowed if you have braces. The gum can get stuck on your brackets and around the wires. Aside from causing a general mess that is difficult to clean, they can also damage your braces and possibly cause them to dislodge. If you used gum to freshen your breath before wearing braces, try sucking on a mint or brushing your teeth more frequently throughout the day.