Two girls with straight blond hair standing under a pergola and drinking iced coffee

Thanks to advances in orthodontic technology and treatment techniques, the average patient today can enjoy a much more convenient and comfortable braces experience than previous generations. But even modern braces have some limitations regarding what types of food can be enjoyed – and what should be avoided.

At Harvey & Thomas Orthodontics, “What can I eat with braces?” is one of the most common questions we hear from new patients. Fortunately, we have lots of experience (and tasty suggestions) for helping you enjoy meals while ensuring your treatment is as quick and effective as possible. Keep reading – or request your free consultation – to learn more!

What Can I Eat When I First Get Braces?

When you first transition into wearing braces, your mouth will be more sensitive than usual. Tougher foods and textures can cause pain during this initial period, so you’ll want to eat softer foods for up to a week (or longer if the sensitivity persists).

Some of our favorite soft foods for braces include: yogurt, scrambled eggs, soup, mashed potatoes, pasta, soft fruits or cheeses, and cooked veggies. The easier to chew, the better!

During this transition, there are a few strategies you’ll want to learn in order to make your experience more comfortable. As you get used to your braces, we recommend that you:

  • Cut food into smaller bites, so you won’t need to chew as often or as forcefully.
  • Enjoy cold drinks. Items like protein shakes can be a good source of nutrients while you’re experiencing mouth sensitivity, and cold beverages also help numb your mouth.
  • Adjust your biting and chewing. Instead of biting directly into food, such as an apple, cut small pieces of it off. When chewing, try to use the teeth in the sides and back of your mouth, and chew slowly to avoid biting your cheeks or tongue.

What to Avoid Eating Right After Getting Braces

Once you’ve adjusted to your braces, you’ll be able to eat and drink many of the items you enjoyed before braces. However, some of these “safe” foods are not appropriate during your initial adjustment to braces. They may irritate your mouth further, or they may be just a bit too tough, thick, or chewy for the transition period.

While you’re adjusting, be aware of these foods to avoid with braces:

  • Acidic, spicy or citrus-based foods
  • Ice cream
  • Thicker cuts of meat or bread

Of course, you’ll be able to enjoy these tasty treats once you get through the initial adjustment period.

Teenage girl with straight blond hair holding an iced coffee and looking out the window

Food You Can Eat With Braces

The teeth, bones, and tissues in your mouth will experience rapid changes while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. It’s important to support these structural changes with a healthy and nutritious diet to ensure the best results possible. You’ll also want to watch out for hard, sticky, or chewy substances that can damage your braces and impede progress (don’t worry, we’ll cover those in the next section).

Here are some of our favorite options for maintaining a balanced diet with plenty of variety, broken down by category:

  • Breads and grains: pancakes, soft tortillas, muffins (but not with nuts!), pasta, rice, quinoa
  • Vegetables: beans, steamed spinach, mashed potatoes, peas
  • Fruits: applesauce or pre-sliced apples, bananas, fruit juices, and smoothies without nuts or seeds
  • Meats, poultry, and seafood: lunch meats, meatballs, chicken, tuna, salmon
  • Dairy: milk-based drinks or smoothies, pudding, soft cheese
  • Desserts: Jell-O, soft cake, ice cream without nuts or hard candy

Hopefully, this list gives you a good starting point as you learn more about eating with braces. In the next section, we’ll help you figure out which foods you absolutely must avoid with braces.

Foods to Avoid With Braces

While there are plenty of awesome food and beverage options available during orthodontic treatment, the reality is that some foods – especially hard or sticky items – just won’t play nice with your braces. These foods can damage wires or brackets, possibly requiring repair and slowing down your progress.

Sugary drinks and foods also pose a problem if you have braces, and you should limit how much you consume. Sugar is a key ingredient in the formation of plaque, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities, and braces make it more difficult to fully brush away this plaque.

If you’re still asking yourself “What can I not eat with braces?”, then this handy list should give you a better idea (although not a comprehensive one) of foods to avoid with braces:

  • Sticky foods: candies that feature caramel or toffee, chewing gum
  • Chewy foods: chewy candy-like licorice, bagels, hard rolls
  • Crunchy/hard foods: popcorn, pretzels, hard tortilla shells, chips, crunchy vegetables or fruit, ice, nuts, hard candy

It’s also important to avoid foods that require you to bite into them using your front teeth. Some examples include apples and corn on the cob. However, one option is to strip the delicious parts using silverware and then cut these types of foods into small bites that you can chew with your back teeth.

Eating With Braces Can Still Be Fun at Harvey & Thomas Orthodontics

Being smart about what you eat with braces can go a long way toward improving the effectiveness and speed of your treatment. But it’s not a journey you have to make alone!

At Harvey & Thomas Orthodontics, our expert staff and accomplished doctors will help guide you toward the best possible braces experience and outcome. And if eating or drinking what you want is important to you, we can also see if you’re a good candidate for Invisalign, which offers more flexibility in this area.

Hopefully this blog gives you a good idea of foods you can enjoy – and what to avoid – during orthodontic treatment. If you still have questions or would like to see if braces are right for you or a loved one, you can request your free consultation at any time!