The aim of a healthy braces-friendly diet is to avoid damage to your braces while providing all the nutrients you need. This rules out hard or sticky foods, but leaves you with many safe and tasty alternatives, and you can still enjoy occasional treats as long as you’re careful.
A further motivation to eat braces-friendly foods is that they help to ensure your orthodontic treatment achieves the best outcome as quickly as possible – fixing your crooked teeth to give you an awesome smile.
Certain foods not only cause discomfort when wearing braces but can also break the wires, bands, and brackets, resulting in unscheduled visits to your orthodontist to repair the damage – and lengthening your treatment time.
Another reason to adopt a braces-friendly diet is that oral hygiene can be tricky when you have braces, a problem that will be aggravated if you indulge in sugar-rich foods liable to get stuck in your braces. This creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to attack your teeth and gums.
So, the best braces-friendly foods are low in sugar and don’t require excessive chewing. But how do you put that into practice while avoiding a bland, repetitive diet? With a little thought, it may be easier than you think.
Here are some ideas to help you create a comprehensive braces-friendly meal plan with healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Braces-Friendly Foods for Breakfast
Medical professionals will tell you breakfast is the most important meal of the day for your health, so it’s advisable not to skip it for the sake of expediency if you’re wearing braces.
Crunchy granola may be out of the question but there are plenty of other foods that are braces-friendly for your first meal of the day, including:
- Soft toast.
- Bacon (not too crispy).
Braces-Friendly Foods for Lunch
Undercooked vegetables and hard fruits like apples are best left off the lunch menu to avoid damaging your braces.
Safer options include:
- Salad (without nuts).
- Soft cheese.
- Cottage cheese.
Braces-friendly sandwiches can also provide a handy lunchtime standby. With seeded bread, the seeds can get stuck in your braces, and hard, crispy baguettes can damage them. Instead, try doughy bread with a filling such as ham and soft cheese, or egg mayonnaise.
Braces-Friendly Foods for Dinner
Options for a healthy braces-friendly dinner include:
- Apple sauce.
- Mashed potatoes.
- Vegetables steamed until soft.
- Lean protein such as chicken or fish.
- Soft-cooked rice or pasta.
- Soft tortillas.
Snacking probably presents the biggest challenge when you’re trying to eat a braces-friendly diet. Many of your favorite treats may well be loaded with sugar and/or are just too hard for braces to handle.
The good news is that avoiding snacks such as popcorn, chips and chewy caramel when you’re wearing braces can set you on the road to a lifetime of healthier eating.
Other snacks braces wearers should avoid include:
- Hard candy.
- Pizza crust.
- Hard-shell tacos.
When you get peckish between meals, snacks that are braces-friendly include:
- Soft fruits such as peaches and bananas.
- Soft raw vegetables.
- Roasted or baked hard fruits such as pears and apples.
- Salad greens.
- Soft dairy foods.
- Fruit smoothies.
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Light crackers or cookies.
Meats You Can Eat When Wearing Braces
Meat provides us with essential nutrients like protein and iron but poses a problem for braces wearers because it’s fibrous and hard to chew.
Stringy meat has a tendency to stick in braces or between your teeth. Tough cuts are particularly difficult to chew and can loosen the bands that surround your back teeth. Eating meat straight off the bone – ribs and chicken wings, for instance – risks dislodging a bracket.
However, you don’t have to forego meat altogether. Choose lean, tender pieces of chicken, pork or beef removed from the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Tofu is a good vegetarian option.
Vegetables You Can Eat When Wearing Braces
Vegetables are important for the minerals and vitamins we need. However, hard vegetables such as raw carrots are tough to bite into with braces and can pop a bracket off a tooth. That said, you can still eat most vegetables cooked, which softens the food. As with meats, cut your vegetables into bite-sized pieces that can be easily chewed with your back teeth.
Why Dairy Products Are Braces-Friendly
You can hardly go wrong with dairy products when it comes to braces-friendly foods. Dairy foods are an excellent choice for braces wearers because they’re soft and easy to chew while providing you with calcium, protein, vitamin D and potassium.
Low-fat varieties of cheese, yogurt and milk are particularly healthy. Soft cheese is OK as long as you take care that it doesn’t get stuck in your braces. If you’re lactose intolerant, soy-based dairy-free products are a good alternative.
Need More Advice on Braces-Friendly Foods?
While it’s true that braces wearers need to be cautious about certain foods or avoid them altogether, your diet when wearing braces doesn't have to be boring. You can still choose from a broad range of braces-friendly foods that are readily available and can be easily prepared.
Making sure your diet remains balanced and nutritious is essential during your orthodontic treatment, and can have a big impact on its outcome.
If you’re considering getting braces – for yourself or your child – an orthodontic specialist1 can give you further advice about what’s safe and healthy to eat while wearing braces.
Oral Hygiene When Wearing Braces
Although your braces-friendly diet will be better for your teeth and gums and general health, you still need to pay careful attention to your oral hygiene.
Brushing your teeth while you have braces is more time-consuming but worth the effort to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment, with no problems such as cavities or discolored teeth. The standard guideline when wearing braces is to clean your teeth after each meal.