Eating becomes an entirely different ballgame once braces are firmly cemented to your teeth. Consisting of small brackets cemented to each tooth and connected by wire, braces use pressure to realign your teeth, explains the American Dental Association (ADA). An orthodontist occasionally tightens them to gradually shift teeth, but the pressure and shifting that helps straighten your smile can also cause some discomfort. While orthodontists often emphasize what not to eat, you may be left wondering what foods you can eat with braces. Let's take a look.
Foods to Eat with Braces
Nemours TeensHealth suggests braces-friendly foods and preparation methods that take certain foods out of the "don't eat" category. For example, hard fruits, such as apples and pears, would normally be off limits, but slicing them into thin wedges or small pieces makes them easier to manage and safer on your braces. The same holds true for crunchy veggies like carrots. When steamed or sliced into slivers, carrots become a fine option for a snack or side dish. Other vegetables are easier to eat after they're steamed, sauteed or roasted, too. Unsweetened applesauce and canned fruits in their juices are also acceptable choices.
The Australian Society of Orthodontics (ASO) offers other soft options. Eggs, yogurt and oatmeal are good breakfast choices, while lunch can consist of a sandwich or salad without nuts. Bananas and string cheese are good afternoon snack choices. For dinner, match lean proteins, such as fish or chicken, with plenty of cooked veggies. Enjoy foods that you don't have to chew very much after an adjustment, like mashed potatoes and soup, so your sensitive mouth doesn't become more sore.
Eating with Braces: Foods to Avoid
You want to avoid foods that are going to stick to the wiring or detach a bracket from its tooth. The American Association of Orthodontists reminds you to avoid goodies such as popcorn kernels, nuts, tortilla chips, gum, taffy and caramel. The ADA recommends avoiding whole apples and corn on the cob. The ASO also notes that you should stick with options that are low in sugar to help prevent areas of decay from forming around your braces.
Other Factors for Keeping Your Teeth and Braces Healthy
Keeping your teeth clean is especially important with braces, and it can take some time to adjust to brushing with braces. Brush the gumline at a 45-degree angle to start. Then, angle down from the top of the bracket while you brush. Repeat the process from the bottom of the bracket while angling up. Flossing will require the use of a threader. Once you're done brushing and flossing, rinse with mouthwash. Colgate Total Mouthwash for Gum Health fights plaque between teeth and along the gumline as it kills 99 percent of germs on contact. And don't forget to schedule regular dental and orthodontic checkups.
It can take years to straighten teeth with braces, and any damage to the wires or brackets can increase the length of your treatment. To keep your braces intact, select a menu of foods you can eat with braces and take good care of your oral health. Your smile will thank you.