Written by Issy Lovett, a freelance writer with a specialization in health and wellness matters.
Around 4 million people in the U.S. wear braces and for teens who have just had their first set of brackets fitted, one of the first questions that cross their minds may be: ‘What foods can I eat?’ The truth is that they don’t have to give up the foods they love or give up many of the foods they normally enjoy. One vital tool teens with braces will find handy is Doctor Plotka’s Mouthwatchers Youth Manual Toothbrush - recommended for kids, teens and even adults with braces. In addition to the embedded silver technology keeping the brush itself 99% bacteria-free, the dual-layered flossing bristles maneuver around braces to remove more food debris and plaque build-up than a typical brush. Brushing is one important step to take but teens can also keep their braces in good condition by sticking to foods that won’t destroy their apparatus.
Why Is Food Selection Key When Wearing Braces?
Foods that snap the arch wire of braces or dislodge brackets from teeth can make braces ineffective and can necessitate a visit to the dentist to repair or replace broken parts of the apparatus. This pause involved between the damage and the visit adds to the total time you or your child needs to have the braces on. Some foods can also cause pain when teeth and gums are sore because of a recent adjustment.
Soft and Gentle
Without braces, it is good to eat foods with a wide array of textures but when you have an apparatus, generally opt for soft foods such as grains and cooked vegetables, and soft fruits like bananas, strawberries, and pitted stone fruits. Foods that can damage your braces because of their texture include tougher meats, hard jelly sweets, and the like. The good news, if you are an omnivore, is that you can still enjoy your favorite grilled meat, chicken, and fish dishes - provided the produce is tender. It will be very easy and almost instinctual to work out which foods may be a little too hard for your apparatus to withstand.
Opt for Low Sugar Foods
Sugary foods (refined sweets, drinks, cakes and indeed any starchy foods) create a sticky film that sticks to your teeth and gums after it mixes with your saliva. When you are wearing braces, this film also sticks to the brackets and wires. Even if you brush your teeth well after consuming these foods, it may be more difficult to reach some parts of the wire and brackets. The sticky film can remain on the surface, attacking the enamel on your teeth and potentially causing cavities.
Specific Foods to Avoid
In addition to generally opting for softer and low Glycemic index foods, try to avoid specific foods that can damage your braces. These include corn on the cob, ice, caramel and other sticky sweets, and popcorn. Hard or crusty breads such as baguettes can also cause problems. Also be cautious of foods that can stain your braces, including turmeric (which can also stain Invisalign retainers), spicy and acidic combinations (since these can break down teeth and gums), and icy foods (which can cause cracks in teeth). If you have an Invisalign retainer, you should also avoid smoking, alcohol, and chewing gum, since these foods can stick to the retainer and even stain the apparatus and your teeth yellow.
Adapting to braces isn’t as hard as you might think. By avoiding hard and sticky foods, tobacco, and alcohol, you can keep your braces and teeth and gums in good condition. Be particularly vigilant about foods like popcorn and ice; they can cause great discomfort and even, sometimes, cause cracks in teeth.