What You Can and Can’t Eat with Braces - Foods to Avoid

What You Can and Can’t Eat with Braces - Foods to Avoid
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What You Can and Can’t Eat with Braces - Foods to AvoidClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Why Is It Important to Watch What You Eat
  2. Foods To Avoid with Braces
  3. What Happens If You Do Eat These Foods
  4. Tips for Eating with Braces
  5. Cleaning Braces after Eating
  6. References

While some people have healthy teeth and a perfect smile from childhood on up, many others have orthodontic problems that need correction. Braces offer an effective way of adjusting dental arrangements to give you the picture-perfect smile.

But getting braces comes with its challenges which include modification in the types of food you consume, plus adjustments in oral hygiene practices among other things.

For optimum results in the shortest time possible, it’s essential to know what foods you can eat as a braces-wearer—and which ones to avoid.

Why Is It Important to Watch What You Eat

Minimizes Discomfort
Having a foreign object in your mouth that exerts pressure on the teeth, gums and jawbone is by itself an uncomfortable experience. Any food that requires considerable force to chew implies the pressure on the roots on your teeth is bound to increase and the more discomfort you feel. Not surprisingly, orthodontists recommend you watch your diet to ensure you quell the uneasiness braces cause.
Prevent Damage of Braces
Unless you care for these orthodontic appliances properly, they will break loose—or just break—without achieving their intended goal. Hard foods such as nuts are more likely to spoil the bands or break the archwires, rendering your braces ineffective. These and other issues lengthen the time for your treatment, generate more expense to you and cause schedule interruptions. You can avoid all these by eating the right foods.
Avert Tooth Decay
Some foods are associated with a higher risk of enamel erosion and consequent tooth decay. For someone wearing braces, eating foods with high sugar content is asking for trouble. Debris will stick to your brackets, forming a medium for bacterial growth. In the long term, these kinds of foods erode your enamel, setting the stage for cavities and other more serious dental problems.
Foods to Avoid with Braces

Foods To Avoid with Braces

Abstaining from foods you love may be the saddest demand from orthodontic treatment. The list of what to avoid sometimes seems longer than the foods we can eat.

But from a nutritional perspective, diet modification can make your dental journey more effective long term. The better your diet, the better your body takes care of itself, including your teeth.

In general, avoid:

  • Overly sugary and starchy food
  • Hard, difficult-to-chew foods
  • Sticky hard candy, gum, licorice, caramel, popcorn, apples, pretzels, and nuts

These are just some of the edibles you should avoid to prevent both dental decay and damage to the orthodontic treatment appliances.

What Happens If You Do Eat These Foods?

If you insist on eating whatever you want, including foods that are on the don’t-eat list, your orthodontist is going to want a word. Here are some of the things you risk experiencing if you consume the foods you ought to avoid eating with braces:

  • Tooth decay, which is caused by the accumulation of debris from sugary substances around the brackets and bands
  • Damage of the different components of the braces, which results from eating hard foods
Orthodontists advise limiting sugary foods and drinks while wearing braces because when sugar combines with saliva, it creates a sticky film that coats the teeth.

Tips for Eating with Braces

Depending on the nature of your orthodontic issue, you are likely to stay with the braces for a couple of months to a year(s). It is therefore important to develop appropriate coping strategies including tips on how to eat with braces. For instance:

  • Take soft food. Softer delicacies such as scrambled eggs, dairy products or fruit drinks will keep you healthy while reducing the soreness associated with the monthly adjustment of the braces as scheduled by your dentist.
  • Avoid large chunks of meat or directly biting fruits like apples. Always chew carefully to prevent both discomfort and damage to the appliances.

Cleaning Braces after Eating

Regardless of the food you eat while wearing braces, maintaining oral hygiene is paramount. The crevices around these appliances and the teeth must be kept clean at all times.

After every meal, you should brush and floss your teeth to prevent plaque formation and decay. Poor oral health may also cause permanent discoloration that will be counterproductive to your goal of achieving an impeccable smile.

To clean your braces after eating, take off the removable parts such as the elastics. Now brush at an inclination of 45 degrees, cleaning each tooth with a bracket in a circular pattern. Remove any remains from below the archwires by flossing using a threader.

Brush at least 5 times a day with each session lasting for approximately 5 minutes. Remember to clean the gums and the tongue as you would without braces. A bacterial mouthwash can also help in eradicating any organisms that remain trapped around the braces.


Foods you can and can’t eat with braces. (October 21, 2019). Orthodontics Australia. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

The Basics of Braces. (March 2016). Nemours KidsHealth. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

Dental braces. (May 21, 2019). Mayo Clinic. Date fetched: July 29, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.