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Foods you can and can’t eat with braces

December 19, 2023
Foods you can and can’t eat with braces

Getting braces is an exciting time, no matter if you’re a child or adult. Though it may be tempting to snack on a hard lolly or some roasted nuts while you’ve got your braces, there are some foods that are better left untouched when you’re wearing them.

Avoiding certain foods (and prioritising others) can truly make a difference when it comes to maintaining your braces. There’s nothing worse than biting into a whole apple only for your braces wires to break or for your bracket to come loose. This handy guide will explain the different foods you can eat with braces and what you should avoid (for now).

What happens if you eat the wrong foods?

If you’ve accidentally eaten the wrong food while wearing your braces, chances are you might experience some level of discomfort. This can also put you at risk of a broken bracket or wire, which may require a quick and unexpected trip to your regular orthodontist. Having to go to your orthodontist unexpectedly can also increase your treatment time, meaning it can take a tiny bit longer for your braces to work their magic.

There are also some sticky or high-sugar (or both) foods that, if eaten while wearing braces, can easily get stuck in your wires or brackets. This can create a harmful environment for plaque and bacteria to grow, which can cause long-lasting damage to your teeth, such as tooth decay, if not taken care of properly.

What can you eat with braces?

Some of the best foods to eat with braces are low in sugar and don’t require a lot of chewing, which includes:

  • soft, complex carbohydrates, like bread, cooked grains and mashed potatoes
  • soft and hearty foods, like soup and stews
  • dairy foods and drinks, like soft cheese, yoghurt and milk
  • fruits and vegetables that are cooked until soft or cut/grated into bite-sized pieces
  • meat, poultry, fish and protein-rich foods that are cooked until soft or tender.

What should you eat for the first week of braces?

During the first week of getting braces, it’s very normal to feel some discomfort – your mouth is adjusting to the new appliance, after all. You should eat soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow, such as:

  • yoghurt
  • boiled or steamed vegetables
  • soft meats
  • stewed fruit
  • thin soups.

These foods will help avoid putting any additional pressure on your teeth, which may be feeling sensitive and tender.

What foods should you avoid with braces?

It’s important that you aim to eat a health, well-balanced diet while wearing fixed braces so you can avoid excessive snacking. You should also avoid certain types of foods, which include:

  • chewy foods, such as lollies and liquorice
  • crunchy foods, such as chips and popcorn
  • sticky foods, such as caramel and dried fruits
  • hard foods, such as nuts and pretzels
  • foods that you need to bite into forcefully, like whole apples and raw carrots
  • sugary foods, like lollies and boiled sweets
  • sweet drinks such as fruit juice, cordial and soft drinks.

Can you chew gum?

Contrary to what you may think, you can actually chew gum while you have braces. But there’s a catch. You should opt for a sugar-free chewing gum that come in soft strips. This can help stimulate saliva, which in turn can help prevent tooth decay in your mouth (a big win if you have braces).

Avoid bubble gum entirely, as it usually contains sugar and is stickier to its chewing gum counterpart. Chewing bubble gum can often get stuck in your wires or brackets, which can lead to cavities and tooth decay if not removed properly.

Can you eat chocolate?

Yes, you can eat chocolate with braces. However, this must be done in moderation, due to the high sugar content of chocolate. When you can, try to reach for dark chocolate, instead of milk chocolate varieties. You should also avoid chocolate that has any caramel, toffee or nuts in it to reduce the likelihood of breaking a bracket or wire.

Can you eat pizza?

If you’re a pizza lover, then we’ve got good news – you can still enjoy your tasty, cheesy meal. But it’s best if you slice off the crust before you take a bite, as the crust often requires a lot of chewing, which isn’t great for your braces.

Can you eat chips or fries?

Whether you like hot potato chips or thin crisps from the packet, you don’t have to give up chips when you get braces. Fries are the least risky and probably the easiest to eat when your braces are still new if your mouth is feeling a bit sensitive, as they’re soft to bite into. Though as with any soft food, removing the debris correctly after eating. Use a floss or proxy tip to get rid of any lingering potato, but be gentle – if some pieces do not dislodge easily, don’t force or try repeatedly as you risk damage to your braces.

Can you eat soft pretzels?

Soft pretzels, as with any other bready food, is generally fine for consumption while wearing braces. But you should eat these bready treats in moderation both for your dental and physical health. Soft pretzels are fine for braces, so long as any lingering bits of bread are removed after eating. Foods with higher amounts of sugar can negatively impact your oral health if they’re stuck in your teeth, wires or brackets.

Hard pretzels, by contrast, are a big no-no. Anything that requires a lot of force to bite through is going to be detrimental to the integrity of your braces over time, and risks separating the bracket from your tooth.

Can you eat apples?

An apple a day still keeps the doctor away even when wearing braces, but only if you eat it correctly. It’s always best to slice up the apple into bite-sized pieces, as it can help avoid damage to your brackets and wires.

Can you eat with wax on your braces?

Orthodontic wax is non-toxic and safe if accidentally consumed. It’s made for you to put in your mouth so you can definitely eat while it is applied – in fact, if you have a mouther ulcer, it may make it much easier to get through a meal without too much discomfort. If you happen to dislodge the wax while eating, simply replace it after your meal. Just be sure to rinse your mouth and brush your teeth first to ensure you’re not affixing food debris to your tooth.

Considerations for eating with braces

Regardless of what types of foods you eat with braces, it is important to keep the crevices between the teeth and around the braces very clean. This means you should brush and floss at least twice a day to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay. Failing to do so damage the teeth and gums, and it can also cause discolouration that can last a lifetime.

To ensure that you’re getting the best results possible from your braces treatment, follow our advice about what you can and can’t eat with braces. Or you can ask your orthodontist any questions about your specific treatment.

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  • greenj says:

    Thanks this helps and I just got braces yesterday so they still hurt

  • skyethewolf says:

    this helps alot cause im gonna get braces soon and i need to know what i can eat and what i can’t eat!

  • Don Schuldes says:

    I just got my braces on, and I’m terrified of breaking a bracket. What are the chances of breaking a bracket even when obeying all the food rules?

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      Hi Don. It is very difficult to actually break a bracket, but they may become dislodged from the tooth, requiring a quick appointment with your orthodontist to reattach them. If you’re following the food rules and all of your orthodontist’s advice, the chances of this happening are very small. However, depending on your habits it may still happen from time to time. Be sure to be gentle when flossing and brushing so you’re not putting to much stress on your brackets. It can also help to take smaller bites or cut your food into bite-sized pieces to avoid the brackets as much as possible while eating.

  • Scaredforaplate says:

    I’ve been scared for my life getting a plate and I had no idea what foods I could eat and then you guys came to help.
    Thanks so much
    Aiden Holmes

  • Annamarie Farah says:

    Hi, I just got my braces yesterday and I was just wondering if we could eat meat because sometimes meat is chewy (especially steak)? Thank you, this was very helpful.

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      Hi Annamarie, Yes you can still eat steak, however your teeth may be a bit tender after you first get your braces on (this goes away after a day or two as you adjust to the feeling in your mouth). We recommend cutting your steak into smaller bites that are easier to chew and brushing your teeth / flossing after your meal. Thanks!

  • Abs says:

    This really helps!
    But could I still eat ANZAC biscuits and kinda chewy biscuits like that?

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      That should be fine as long as you’re careful and take small bites. You’ll want to avoid things like hard caramels that can dislodge your brackets.

  • Marco says:

    I just got my braces today. Can I just rinse my mouth instead of brushing my teeth after meals if I don’t have a toothbrush or I’m on the go?

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      You should rinse your mouth with water after eating, particularly if you are on the go and unable to brush or floss between meals. Drinking water helps to stop food from staining your teeth and can help dislodge small pieces of food from within your brackets. You may also choose to chew on sugar free gum, but should still be mindful of your braces while doing so.

  • Bec79 says:

    Can you chew on sugar free chewing gum which braces? Thanks.

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      Yes you can chew sugar free gum with braces, however we recommend you still be mindful of your braces. Only chew for a limited amount of time, avoid pushing the chewing gum into the side of your mouth or gums and be mindful of your brackets. Instead f relying on chewing gum, we recommend carrying a travel toothbrush with you to clean your teeth after meals and ensure fresh breath (this will also help to avoid staining of your teeth).

  • DorkGirl (I have braces and a plate) says:

    I have braces, I got them last Thursday I think. To anybody who is reading this who have just gotten braces:
    I know it hurts now, but I promise it will clear up!! Take painkillers and (strangly enough) ice-cream (it numbs the pain)!!
    {from New Zealand}

  • JORJI says:

    i eat what it says you can’t and have never broken a bracket and i have had them on for around 6 months

  • ambibambi says:

    I’m scared of getting white spots once my teeth get removed. How can I prevent this from happening and lessen my fear of it?

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      Practicing good oral hygiene and drinking plenty of water will help to prevent staining of your teeth. If you’re concerned, we recommend brushing after every meal, sticking to water, and flossing regularly to ensure there is no build up of food or plaque which can lead to staining. If you do experience some discolouration, it may go away on its own or your orthodontist or dentist may help you with teeth whitening. Speak to your orthodontist for their tips and advice, and be sure to visit your dentist for cleanings too.

  • Bridgett Mohlala says:

    I love dates a lot a I tried eat few with braces and nothing happened 🙃 is it okay

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      Hi Bridgett,

      Yes dates are totally fine to eat with braces! Be sure to drink water and brush your teeth regularly still as they do have natural sugars in them.

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