Braces and other orthodontic appliances are great for correcting overcrowding, alignment and bite issues, and closing unwanted gaps. While there are many advantages to wearing them, braces require specific care to work properly. The best way to prevent damaging your new brackets and wires is to make some temporary adjustments to your diet and avoid certain foods.
Here are the 10 worst summertime foods to eat while wearing braces and why you should avoid them.
#1: Corn on the Cob
Kernels from corn on the cob (and popcorn!) can get stuck between the teeth even without braces. However, it’s more difficult to clean hard-to-reach places while wearing braces, leading to a lodged kernel of corn causing swelling, discomfort, and even infection. Additionally, biting into an ear of corn can cause brackets to pop off, which then requires an emergency orthodontic appointment to correct the issue and keep your treatment plan on track.
Chewing on ice is always considered a harmful oral habit, but chewing on ice while wearing braces can cause even more damage. Not only do you risk damaging your enamel or cracking a tooth, but you also risk severe damage to brackets and wires.
#3: Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits like apples, pears, and other fruits that offer a satisfying crunch when biting into them can all cause damage to braces. These fruits are still great for your diet and safe to consume, so long as they are cut into bite-sized pieces or cooked until they’re soft.
#4: Raw Vegetables
Just like fruits, snacking on raw vegetables can also damage your braces. A great alternative to biting into a carrot stick or a celery stock is to cut them into bite-size pieces and focus on using your back molars when chewing. Once cooked, raw vegetables become safe to eat because they soften and are less likely to cause damage.
Doughy foods like pizza and crusty bread require biting and pulling and require extra chewing, which can loosen and bend wires. Eating pizza with a fork and a knife may be less fun, but it’s safer and easier to eat.
#6: Sugary Sweets
Cake, ice cream, popsicles, ice cream bars, cookies, and candy are all summertime staples, but they’re not great for your teeth. With braces, these sugary sweets can contribute to increased plaque, tartar, and cavities.
#7: Hard Candies
Candy, in general, can be either hard and crunchy or sticky and chewy, all of which are bad for braces and also bad for your teeth. It’s best to avoid all candy, but you should never bite and chew on hard candies. If you’re going to indulge, make sure and eat the less crunchy, softer candy. Chocolate is our favorite brace-friendly candy because it’s less likely to cause damage and won’t stick to your teeth.
#8: Meat on the Bone
Chicken wings, drumsticks, and ribs are all BBQ staples and our favorite summer meals. However, biting into a piece of meat and using your teeth as tools to create smaller pieces to chew is hard on braces. You can still consume these meats; simply cut the meat off the bone after cooking and enjoy!
#9: Crunchy Snacks
Just like sticky foods, crunchy snacks like nuts, crackers, and chips tend to find their way into the nooks and crannies of your teeth and braces. This quickly leads to tooth decay and gum irritation.
#10: Bubble Gum
While it won’t necessarily damage braces, gum can stick to them and dislodge the wires. If you chew gum, it’s essential that you only chew sugar-free gum. Sugary, sticky gum, like Bubblicious and Juicy Fruit, can cause significant cavities and should be avoided at all costs. Gum with xylitol is our top recommendation.
We have many other suggestions and tricks to help make summertime meals and snacks easier while wearing braces. Ask us about our favorite braces-friendly summer snacks at your next checkup with Thomas Orthodontics.