Surprising foods you should limit (or completely avoid) with braces

If you have – or will soon have – braces, you know that there are some foods that are off-limits. These foods have the potential to damage your braces by causing a bracket to pop off (requiring an emergency trip to the orthodontist to bond it back on the tooth) or to get stuck in and around the brackets and wire.

Your orthodontist will likely give you a list of foods you should limit or avoid on braces, which we recommend you keep handy as a reference. We’d also like to share our list of no-nos.

“Classic” Foods to Avoid with Braces

These are the “classic” foods you know to avoid – the hard, crunchy, sugary, sticky, and chewy ones:

  • Chewing gum
  • Nuts
  • Corn chips, Potato Chips and Tortilla Chips
  • Hard taco shells
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Hard crackers
  • Hard cookies
  • Sticky chocolate
  • Sticky and hard candy
  • Ice cubes

A number of other foods can be eaten with braces, but only after cutting them up into smaller pieces:

  • Hard rolls
  • Thin-crust pizza
  • Raw vegetables
  • Hard fruit like apples
  • Meat (including bone-in meats like chicken wings or ribs)
  • Burgers
  • Sub sandwiches
  • French bread and Italian bread
  • Croutons

Avoiding these can be tough, but worth the challenge to not extend time of wearing braces by causing damage to them, or damage to teeth themselves. Some ideal foods to eat while wearing braces are soups, mashed potatoes, pasta, cooked veggies, seafood, and soft fruits.

Surprising Foods and Drinks to Avoid with Braces

These foods and drinks may not have the bracket-breaking qualities of those listed above, but they are still able to damage teeth, and are best avoided – or at least limited – with braces.

  • Certain fruits (such as citrus, berries, and pomegranates)
  • Fruit juice
  • Certain herbal teas (such as fruit teas, rosehip, and hibiscus)
  • Soda (regular and diet)
  • Wine

What do these all have in common? They’re acidic. Acids can wear away the tooth’s protective enamel, making them more susceptible to cavities. While it’s never good to eat or drink a large amount of these, it’s worse with braces because it can be difficult to effectively clean all the acid away from around brackets and in between teeth and wires.

Plus, fruit juices and non-diet sodas are loaded with sugars, which are also damaging to enamel. Sugars that aren’t cleaned way from the surface can turn into plaque which can lead to white spots on the teeth. It’s a real disappointment when patients have their braces removed only to find that along with their new, straight smile, they now have white spots that are often permanent. You can avoid this by being vigilant with brushing and flossing every day and by limiting the sugary, acidic foods and drinks you consume.

Instead of sodas, juices, acidic herbal teas, and wine, incorporate more of these low-acid drinks into your diet: select herbal teas, green tea, milk and – the single best thing you can drink – plain old water. When selecting fruit, opt for fruits that are lower in acid, such as bananas, watermelon, and honeydew.

Taking Care of Your Teeth All Day

Taking care of your teeth and braces doesn’t happen only when you’re at the sink, brushing and flossing. It’s happening constantly, impacted by the choices you make all day long. Being smart and selective about the things you eat and drink can have a huge impact on the health of your teeth and gums and the results of your orthodontic treatment. So choose wisely!