Best Foods to Eat During Orthodontic Treatment (and Ones to Avoid)

You’ve started your orthodontic treatment and it’s up to you to take good care of your teeth and the braces themselves, protecting your investment in both time and money. Before too long, you will achieve a beautiful smile with straight, aligned teeth and a lifetime of self-confidence. 

One key to making this happen is being mindful of the foods you consume. By knowing which foods are good to eat and which pose risks to your braces, you can make good choices with teeth-friendly foods as you plan your meals, including eating out with friends and family. It’s also about understanding how certain foods can lead to cavities and gum disease so you can avoid those problems.

In this article, we break down what you need to know when it comes to the best foods to eat during orthodontic treatment. You can still enjoy your lifestyle while ensuring the best results with your braces!


How To Approach Food During Your First Days With Braces

For the first few days, your mouth will be sore, no matter what orthodontic device you have. Don’t add to your discomfort by eating crunchy or tough foods. Stick with soft foods as long as your mouth is sore.

Here are the best foods for your teeth in the very early part of treatment (and after any adjustments):

  • Soups
  • Yogurt
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soft cheeses
  • Pasta
  • Moist desserts

Also, it’s important to note some foods to avoid during orthodontic treatment, including citrus fruits or juices, spicy foods, thick breads, and chewy meats. After the initial soreness is gone, cut all foods into small pieces so your teeth aren’t tearing meats and bread, and test foods by eating small portions.

If you do experience stinging (from citrus) or any other pain, don’t eat that food until your mouth is toughened up a bit by the braces or aligners over time. Or just avoid those foods completely until your orthodontic device is removed at the end of your treatment.


Understanding Braces and Food Restrictions to Avoid Damage

It helps to understand how braces work so you can choose foods and drinks that won’t damage them. The braces’ brackets are bonded to the teeth and then wires connect the brackets. Throughout your treatment plan, your orthodontist will increase the pressure on the teeth by tightening the wires during your appointments. Gradually, this changing pressure moves the teeth into the desired, properly aligned positions. 

Some kinds of food can damage the braces by bending or breaking the wires or brackets. The damage can quickly lead to discomfort or pain. Or, you might not even know the damage has been done, then compromising the placement of the teeth. In either case, you wouldn’t get the results you paid for, both in time and money. 

Some of the biggest food culprits for damaged braces are hard or crunchy foods like bagels or pizza crust. Sticky foods, like caramels and other candies and gum, make it difficult to brush and floss properly. Sugary drinks, including soda and juice, can be just as damaging as foods. This leads to the buildup of plaque and bacteria and then cavities. High-sugar foods also lead to cavities and permanent white marks on the teeth around the braces brackets.

By anticipating what your foods can do to your braces, you will soon be an expert at what to avoid. Read on for more specifics as you learn to protect your braces.


Best Foods During Orthodontic Treatment

Even though you must be careful, it isn’t necessary to sacrifice everything that tastes good. You still have many choices of foods that work well with braces that are still nutritious and delicious. Here are some categories of worry-free foods while you have braces:

Dairy Products

Cottage cheese, yogurt, and soft cheeses are good for bone health, easy to eat with braces, and offer many varieties from which to choose. They are full of protein, too, so dairy products are healthy snacks and additions to meals.


Soft Fruits and Vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables are soft enough to eat raw plus they contain minerals and vitamins the human body needs. Bananas, melons, berries, and grapes are excellent choices because they are easy to chew. Harder veggies like apples or carrots should be steamed or baked to make them soft enough to eat safely. Both soft and hard foods should be cut into small pieces that are easier to chew.

Soft Breads and Grains

Pancakes, tortillas, and soft rolls are safe to eat with braces. Crusty breads should be avoided. Grains like pasta, quinoa, and rice work well while you have braces, plus they are often high in fiber and protein. They also have the advantage that they can be mixed with many kinds of sauces and soft vegetables to create an entire meal. 


Tender Meats and Meat Alternatives

Many meats can be slow-cooked, braised, or steamed to make them tender enough for braces. Some good options include beef chuck roast, brisket, and bottom round roast. The meats become softer and easier to chew and won’t damage the metal of the braces. 

Meat alternatives such as tofu, legumes, and eggs are good protein sources and are safe for eating while you wear braces.


Bonus Tips For Eating With Braces 

No matter how careful you are in choosing foods to eat while you have your braces, adapting takes time. Here are three additional tips to minimize the risk of damaging your braces and still enjoy eating:

  1. Take your time eating. Chew your food thoroughly and slowly to protect the brackets and wires on your braces.
  2. As mentioned above, cut your food into small pieces. Even if you think it is small enough when it’s put on your plate, cut it even more. It’s better to be overly cautious.
  3. Chew with your back teeth. They are stronger, can stand up to the bulk of your chewing, and are less likely to be damaged.


Yes, You Can Enjoy Food While You Wear Braces!

Once you understand how braces work, you can make good choices to protect your braces when you eat and drink. It’s best to choose soft foods with nutritional value because hard, crunchy foods can bend or break the metal of the braces. This can negatively affect the outcome of your treatment. 

Our expert team here at Swiatek Orthodontics is committed to helping you in any way possible during your treatment plan with braces. Whether you’re considering braces for yourself or a family member, we can answer all your questions about making the proper choices with food. Contact us today!