Foods That Are Great for You While Going Through Orthodontic Treatment
While it’s important to steer clear of crunchy or sticky foods when you’re wearing fixed braces, there are plenty of tasty meals and snacks you can continue to enjoy.
And avoiding foods that may damage your braces can provide the motivation to develop a healthier diet for the rest of your life – one that’s good for your overall wellbeing as well as your teeth and gums.
The right types of foods will also help to ensure the best results from your orthodontic treatment.
Some foods can cause discomfort if you have braces or damage the bands, wires, and brackets, leading to extra visits to your orthodontist for repairs, and prolonging treatment time.
Brushing and flossing can be difficult when you have braces, and this problem can be intensified by sugar-rich foods becoming lodged in your braces – creating a breeding ground for bacteria to attack your teeth and gums.
Foods that are great for you during orthodontic treatment are mainly those that don’t need a lot of chewing and are low in sugar. This still leaves plenty of scope for a varied diet that gives you all the nutrients you need from appetizing foods.
Foods You Can Eat When You’re Wearing Braces
For the first few days after getting your braces, it’s best to limit your diet to soft foods. Afterward, bear in mind that while hard foods can damage your braces, other foods are easier to manage and play a key role in maintaining a nourishing diet.
Foods that are good for your teeth and braces include:
- Soft fruits like strawberries that have high levels of vitamin C, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Melons, grapes, and mangoes are also great for you when going through orthodontic treatment. Just make sure you remove any seeds or pips.
- Yogurt and soft cheeses, which are high in calcium to strengthen bones and contain proteins that counter acids produced by oral bacteria.
- Seafood – fish such as salmon and tuna, with the bones removed.
- Meats – soft-cooked meats such as chicken.
- Pasta – including spaghetti.
Other foods suitable for a braces-friendly diet include:
- Scrambled eggs.
- Steamed veg.
- Soft breads.
- Soft-cooked rice and beans.
- Rice pudding.
- Mashed potatoes.
Eating Healthily During Orthodontic Treatment
Some foods you should be able to manage with braces are particularly good for your oral and general health. These include:
- Leafy greens. Vegetables such as spinach and kale are packed with vitamins and minerals. They’re especially high in vitamin C, which stimulates production of red blood cells and lessens the risk of gum inflammation. Eating leafy greens also produces more saliva, which is good for your oral health.
- Shiitake mushrooms. The anti-bacterial compound lentinan in shiitake mushrooms fights bacteria that produce plaque.
- Onions. Including onions in soups and stews will help to neutralize harmful oral bacteria.
- Peppers. Peppers of all colors have high levels of vitamin C.
Foods That Can Damage Your Braces
It’s advisable to avoid certain foods during orthodontic treatment because of the likelihood of damaging your braces.
These foods include:
- Sticky foods such as licorice, caramels, and jelly beans, which can also become stuck between the wires and brackets of your braces.
- Hard foods like pretzels, nuts, potato chips, hard bread rolls, pizza crusts, and raw carrots.
- Tough meats like beef jerky, which can loosen your braces.
Acidic Foods and Drinks to Avoid
Acidic foods and drinks can eat into tooth enamel. Although many foods high in acid may be good for your body overall, low-acidity foods are better for your teeth, particularly when you’re wearing braces.
Foods to avoid because of high acidity include:
- Barbecue sauces.
High-acidity drinks to avoid include sodas. Sodas not only have acidic additives but are also high in sugar, which further increases the risk of tooth decay. Studies have shown that diet sodas are just as harmful as regular sodas in weakening tooth enamel.
Drinks that are good for you during orthodontic treatment include plain milk and non-fizzy water. Limit fruit juices to mealtimes. Green tea may also be good for you – it contains anti-oxidants that research suggests lessen the risk of gum infection.
How Your Diet Affects Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontic treatment increases your nutritional requirements, particularly in adolescents, whose bodies are still developing. However, it can be tempting for braces wearers to opt for convenience foods without considering nutrient value.
A heavy reliance on convenience foods can lead to excessive consumption of sugars and fats – in pastries, ice cream, and cookies, for example – at the expense of nutritious vegetables, fruits, and cereals.
As well as being detrimental to your whole body, inadequate nourishment can affect the way you respond to orthodontic care – how tissue reacts to the pressure necessary to move your teeth.
Although many foods are ruled out when you have braces, there are just as many you can still enjoy.
The wide range of foods that are great for you while going through orthodontic treatment are usually readily available and easy to prepare, so your diet doesn’t have to be bland or repetitive.
Cleaning Your Teeth and Braces
As you focus on a healthy, balanced diet during your orthodontic treatment, don’t forget that brushing and flossing is crucial to:
- Keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Keep your braces free from build-ups of bacteria.
- Get the best outcome from your orthodontic treatment.
The standard guideline when wearing braces is to brush your teeth after each meal and snacks and floss at least once a day, making sure you get between the brackets and beneath the wires of your braces.
This will go a long way toward ensuring you can continue to enjoy all the foods that are good for you during your orthodontic treatment – with no problems such as tooth decay or gum infection.
If you’re considering getting braces for yourself or your child, an orthodontic specialist can give you further advice about oral hygiene and what’s safe and healthy to eat while wearing braces.