Braces are both a rite of passage and an annoyance. Brushing and flossing are more difficult, and eating is often restricted. However, braces should not impair your eating habits in any significant way. In fact, braces may force you to maintain a healthier diet.
There are four main food groups that should be avoided when you are wearing braces. They are hard foods, sticky foods, foods that are high in sugar, and acidic foods. Hard foods, such as popcorn and peanuts, and sticky foods, such as gummy worms and taffy, can cause braces to break. Sugary and acidic foods can stain and discolor the teeth. Braces make brushing and flossing difficult, and bacteria will grow faster and contribute to tooth decay.
Besides these foods, a person with braces can eat almost anything. For a few days after the braces are put on and after each appointment, the brace-wearer may wish to have only soft foods because of the pain. Foods that fit into the four groups that should be avoided can be eaten carefully and in small amounts if they are desired. Apples, which are hard foods, can be cut into pieces before being eaten. Sticky foods are mainly candies, which should be eaten in small amounts anyway. Sodas (even diet) are sugary, while lemonade and citrus juices are both sugary and acidic. All of these drinks should be avoided or drunk in small amounts. Water is the best option, and the healthiest.
After eating, the brace-wearer should brush and floss. Brushing and flossing are especially important during the time braces are worn. When the temptation is too much and a brace-wearer eats a small amount of forbidden or restricted food, it is crucial that he or she brush thoroughly afterwards: perhaps even more important than avoiding the food in the first place.
Foods that are not hard, sticky, sweet, acidic, and are good for those who are wearing braces include soup, chili, hamburgers and hot dogs, potatoes (prepared so that they are soft), sandwiches, pastas, and eggs. Fruits and vegetables should be cut into small pieces or cooked so they are soft. Rice and casseroles are also good. When in doubt about whether a food is braces-friendly, ask an orthodontist.
Unfortunately, focus is often directed toward which foods are forbidden, not which foods are good for people with braces. While avoiding forbidden foods can be inconvenient, there are many brace-friendly foods out there, and one needn’t restrict ones diet very much due to braces. Sugary, sticky, hard, and acidic foods are to be avoided-but grains, soups and stews, most fruits and vegetables, and most meats are delicious and perfectly acceptable. Don’t let braces hamper your lifestyle, and remember: they’ll be off before you know it.