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What Can & Can't You Eat with Braces?

Written by: Dr. Laura Edwards, Orthodontist

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Oleg Drut, Orthodontist and Diamond Braces CCO

Date: October 8, 2020

When you have braces on your teeth, there are certain food restrictions.

Braces treatment creates a healthy bite, straight teeth, and a great smile – but to get there, you do have to follow some rules. Avoiding certain foods is an important part of protecting your braces appliance and ensure the treatment is going properly.

The below guide will instruct you on everything you need to know about what to eat and what to avoid during your braces treatment.

Chop veggies before eating with braces

What Can You Eat with Braces the First Week?

soft pasta like mac n' cheese is good with braces

After your braces are put on, there are certain foods that you will need to avoid due to their potential to harm your braces or create more dental discomfort.

Remember, after your braces are affixed to your teeth, you may feel sore, and your teeth, lips, and gums may be irritated as they adjust to the braces.

During this time, as your mouth adjusts to the new braces, it's best to stick to a soft diet to avoid causing more discomfort.

The following soft foods are great to eat in the first week after getting braces:

  • Oatmeal or rice cereal

  • Yogurt, pudding, or jell-o

  • Smoothies

  • Soft, boiled vegetables

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Soup

  • Mashed potatoes

Once the soreness goes away (usually after a few days), you can expand your diet, just remembering to avoid certain hard and sticky foods as discussed below.

What Foods Are Good to Eat During Braces Treatment?

Soft stews and mashed potatoes are good during braces treatment

When you wear braces, it's important to eat soft food you can easily chew. Any hard or chewy foods should be cut into pieces and chewed with the back teeth to avoid putting pressure on the braces brackets and wires.

Luckily, there are plenty of foods you can eat while wearing braces, and it’s easy to make healthy, delicious diet choices that protect your braces and keep your orthodontic care progressing smoothly.

Plenty of research has demonstrated that you can get all your necessary vitamins and minerals from a softer diet, so you can stay healthy all through orthodontic care.

The following foods are good to eat throughout your braces treatment:

  • Boiled or stramed vegetables

  • Boneless cooked seafood

  • Eggs

  • Soft bread and baked goods

  • Hamburgers and hot dogs

  • Cool treats like ice cream, popsicles, and smoothies

  • Mashed potatoes

  • Pancakes & waffles

  • Pasta & sauce

  • Peanut butter

  • Soup

  • Jell-o, yogurt, and puddings

  • Hot cereals: oatmeal, cream-of-wheat, grits, etc.

  • Rice

  • Soft cheese

  • Soft fruits or fruit cut into small bites

  • Crunchy vegetables cut into small bites

  • Meat cut off the bone

  • Corn off the cob

As you adjust to wearing your braces, you'll develop an understanding of what braces-safe foods you enjoy. Use your best judgment, and if you have any questions about whether a certain food is safe, ask your orthodontist for more information.

Can You Eat Chips & Popcorn with Braces?

You need to avoid hard chips and popcorn with braces. Both of these foods are hard and crunchy and put pressure on the braces brackets and wire when you eat them. In addition, the small bits of hard chips and the popcorn kernels will get stuck under the wire, and are very difficult to clean out. This can cause bacterial growth on your teeth, as well as staining and discoloration of the dental enamel. Some chips are okay to eat with braces: softer chips like Pringles, baked chips, and cheese puffs are all approved to eat with braces on. Just make sure to eat one at a time and bite them with your back teeth. Hard chips to avoid include Doritos, Fritos, Takis, tortilla chips, crunchy Cheetos, and other similarly crunchy chips.

Can You Eat Cereal While Wearing Braces?

It's best to avoid hard crunchy cereals while wearing braces. Hot cereals are perfectly appropriate during braces treatment, so continue eating oatmeal, rice cereal, cream-of-wheat, and other similarly soft hot cereals.Hard, crunchy cereals that you eat with milk are not safe to eat with braces. Biting down on these hard cereals can put too much pressure on your braces brackets and wires, causing them to bend, break, or come loose.

Does Ice Cream Help with Braces Pain?

Yes, ice cream is an excellent way to soothe braces pain or discomfort. Anything cool and soft will feel good on your teeth and gums and help reduce inflammation. Ice cream, popsicles, cold smoothies, and drinkable yogurt are all excellent foods to eat to soothe pain or discomfort and reduce inflammation during your braces treatment.  Learn more about eating ice cream with braces.

What Foods Not to Eat During Braces

There are certain foods that are important to avoid during braces treatment, due to their potential to break or loosen your braces brackets or wires.

Any hard or sticky foods can disrupt your braces treatment, as well as get stuck under the wires or in the brackets, causing plaque to grow on your teeth.

The following foods are best to avoid:

  • Hard, sticky, or gummy candy
  • Corn on the cob

  • Chewing gum

  • Hard bread crusts

  • Popcorn

  • Crunchy chips

  • Hard pretzels

  • Hard crunchy cookies

  • Meat on the bone

  • Ice (don't chew)

  • Nuts

  • Whole raw veggies such as carrots

  • Whole hard fruits such as apples

  • Whole pickles

Hard colorful candies - these are bad for braces Jelly beans are sticky candies - these are bad for braces Bowl of cashews - hard nuts are bad for braces

All of these foods either put too much pressure on your brackets, causing damage or breakage, or are likely to get stuck under the wire and around the brackets, causing bacterial growth on the teeth.

You don't need to entirely avoid all these foods: some of them can still be eaten by preparing them differently. Cut meat off the bone and corn off the cob, and chop fruits and vegetables into small, bite-size pieces that you can bite with your back teeth. Certain foods, however, need to be avoided throughout the length of your braces treatment.

Popcorn, hard nuts, and hard, sticky, or gummy candy all get trapped within your braces and brackets and can damage the appliance or cause bacterial growth on your teeth.

Why Can't You Eat Certain Foods During Braces?

While your braces are on your teeth, it’s important to follow the diet restrictions provided by your orthodontist.

Your brackets are designed to be sturdy, but even metal brackets can break, come loose, or fall off entirely. Eating hard foods that put pressure on your brackets can cause bracket or wire breakage. In fact, it's one of the most common reasons patients break or damage their braces.

Furthermore, certain hard or sticky foods can easily get stuck in between the brackets of your braces and under the wires, and it can be difficult to remove this food to thoroughly clean your teeth and braces. Over time, food stuck in your braces can cause bacteria and plaque to accumulate, which leads to dental decay and discoloration or staining of your teeth.

For these reasons, following diet restrictions is an important thing you can do to keep your orthodontic care progressing smoothly.

Don't eat whole apples with braces on   Sliced apples are good for braces

What Should You Do if Wires or Bands Break?

Sometimes, even when you follow the above diet restrictions, braces can break. It happens! Brackets can come loose or fall off, wires can pop out or break, rubber bands can fall off, and more. If this happens, there's no need to panic: there are many solutions you can try at home to address the issue, and if that doesn't work, you can schedule a visit with your orthodontist.