What Can I Eat and Drink With Braces?

portrait of an ethnic female teenager with braces as she flashes a big grin
Braces require special care and consideration. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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.

General Guidelines

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.

Extra Preparation

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.

Chewing Style

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.

Warning

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.

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