Here at Grubaugh Orthodontics, we want to provide you with an orthodontic experience that’s positive, stress-free, and rewarding. That begins with your first visit and continues through your last one–and beyond! Choosing to improve your smile with braces is a big decision, and like any new experience, it can take a while to adjust. There are quite a few changes that come with orthodontic treatment, after all, particularly if you’re wearing braces. While most of these changes are relatively minor, a few take some getting used to, like food restrictions and eating the best foods for braces.
The food restrictions that come with braces can be a pretty significant learning curve, but they’re necessary in order to protect your appliance during treatment. Although all the frustration is worth it once we remove your braces and reveal your new smile, we also want to help you make the most of your treatment between now and then! Below we’ll take a look at each of the basic food groups to see what’s orthodontist-approved and what you should be avoiding. Keep reading to learn more!
Vegetables provide us with vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health, and you should aim to consume 1-2 cups of them each day. Although they’re an important part of any healthy diet, the way you eat vegetables will change somewhat while you’re in braces.
Hard veggies like carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli are tough to bite into when they’re raw. Eating them this way can be tough to do with braces, and runs the risk of damaging or popping a bracket right off the tooth. If you want to eat raw vegetables, be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces that can be chewed with your back teeth.
Cooking, boiling, and steaming softens vegetables, so there’s no real limitations on cooked veggies! One exception is corn on the cob. The kernels should be removed from the cob before attempting to eat them.
Like vegetables, fruit is fundamental to good health, but how you choose to eat can be a challenge when you’re wearing braces. Hard fruit like apples are difficult to bite into, for example, thanks to the brackets on your teeth. Unripe pears and peaches that are still firm pose the same problem. If you want to eat raw fruit like this, cut them into bite-sized pieces and chew them thoroughly with the back teeth.
Soft fruits are easy to eat at any stage of the orthodontic process! They can be especially useful after an adjustment appointment, when your teeth and gums may feel slightly sore. Bananas, blueberries, and strawberries are great choices for days when your mouth is tender.
Grains provide us with fiber, iron, and many other important nutrients. They’re a pretty easy food group for braces patients since most grain products are very soft and easy to chew. There are a few exceptions, however! Steer clear of hard crusted bread, like bagels and french loaves, as these are hard to bite into with braces. While you can soften the bread by warming it, you should still break it into small pieces before consuming to keep your brackets safe.
Unground whole grains can also be challenging for you because they can get stuck in between the brackets, attachments, and your teeth. These can be difficult to remove, so you should avoid all small seeds and whole grains until your treatment is complete.
A diet rich in calcium helps keep your bones and teeth strong, and dairy products provide us with not only calcium, but also vitamin D, potassium, and even protein. Because most dairy products are soft and require very little chewing, they’re a great choice for patients in braces!
Milk, cheese, and yogurt taste good and help meet your nutritional needs if your teeth and gums are sore or tender. If you’re lactose intolerant, there are now multiple plant-based options available that provide many of the same benefits. It’s worth noting that soft cheeses can sometimes get stuck between your brackets and wires. To avoid this, cut it into small pieces or purchase a cheese string product that can be easily peeled apart.
Meat, fish, and eggs
Meat supplies our bodies with protein and iron, but can pose a problem if you’re wearing braces. That’s because most meat is fibrous, which makes it difficult to vhew. Stringy meat can stick in the braces or between the teeth, and tough cuts can be so difficult to chew that they loosen the bands. Eating meat right from the bone, like chicken wings and ribs, is also a no-no as your run the risk of popping off a bracket.
When choosing meat, go for lean, tender cuts and make sure each piece is bite-sized. Remove meat from the bone before eating it, too. Your best options when it comes to meat are fish, chicken, and lean beef or pork. If you’re a vegetarian, you have options! Tofu is actually an excellent food, since it’s soft and has lots of nutrients, and eggs are a wonderful addition to any diet. Not only are they great for your body, but you can cook them in a variety of ways that are safe for braces.
Nuts and Seeds
In general, you’re going to want to avoid any raw nuts and seeds in order to keep your braces secure and fully functioning. Nuts and seeds are hard, and also very small, which are challenging aspects for anyone in braces. Biting down on a hard nut or seed can break a band or even a whole bracket! Nuts and seeds can also bend your wires, which can set your treatment plan back. If you really want to incorporate these into your diet, do so by choosing a spread like peanut or almond better. Carefully ground nuts and seeds can be used as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt.
A note on candy
It’s definitely not a food group, but we all love it, anyway: CANDY. Unfortunately, the sweet stuff can be damaging to your braces, and to the surface of your teeth as well. Anything sticky can adhere to the brackets and bands, hard candy can break them off, and gummy candy can bend your wires or get stuck in your appliance. It’s best overall to avoid candy during treatment, especially since your teeth are more vulnerable to decay while you’re in braces. But if you really want to indulge, stick to soft chocolate bars in “fun” sizes.
Choosing a healthy, braces-friendly diet with Grubaugh Orthodontics
Eating with braces doesn’t have to be boring or a chore! Once you know what you can and can’t eat with braces, you can choose from a wide variety of braces-friendly foods. Remember, eating a healthy diet during orthodontic treatment is an important part of the treatment process, too!
If you want more information on how to choose and prepare foods that are good for you and your braces, our team is always here to help. Get in touch with us today and let’s get started on giving you a smile you’ll want to share with everyone around you!