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Foods to Avoid

s-braces3.jpgAlthough you are able to eat or drink many foods while in orthodontic treatment, there are certain eating habits that are known to cause breakage of appliances and braces, which can increase the risk of dental problems.

The following is a list of only some of the foods you should avoid:

You should use your own good judgment when eating any food type. No matter what you eat, remember to thoroughly clean the teeth and gum tissue after eating any food – especially before bedtime.

  • Hard Foods: Popcorn, nuts, peanut brittle, ice, hard candy, hard chips, candied apples, corn-on-the-cob.
  • Sticky Foods: Gum – No way! Fruit Roll-Ups, Gummy Bears, taffy, caramels, Starburst, Bit-O-Honeys, Skittles, Milk Duds, Now & Laters, Jolly Ranchers, etc.

  • Sodas and Sports Drinks: Limit the amount of diet and sugared sodas that you drink during the day. Remember, the high sugar content in regular sodas can lead to cavities, but even diet sodas have an acidic pH that can act just like the acids made by plaque and dissolve tooth enamel! (Don't sip sodas all day long!)

Be Careful with These Foods

  • Carrots: grate or cut into tiny pieces
  • Apples: cut into wedges; don't bite into a whole apple!
  • Hard French bread: tear into small pieces
  • Any food that you would eat with your hands, consider cutting with a knife and fork, even sandwiches and pizza.

Limit Foods with a High Sugar Content

The acids produced by plaque digesting high sugar content foods can attack the enamel of the teeth for 20 minutes or more each time you eat. Over time, this will produce a whitening of the enamel around the braces and can lead to a cavity in the tooth. Try to eat carbohydrates or other sugary foods during a meal. The mouth produces more saliva during a meal, which, in turn helps to neutralize acid production and rinse food from the mouth. If possible, brush immediately after eating. If it is not possible to do so, rinsing with clear water will help. Avoid snacks with a high sugar content during the day.

Other Orthodontic "No-No's"

  • Lip biting
  • Pushing your tongue against your teeth, braces or appliances
  • Chewing on pencils or pens
  • Tearing things with your teeth
  • Biting your fingernails
  • Chewing ice

Remember, breakage delays treatment!

Foods for Tender Teeth

As you may already know, our patients wearing bonds, braces, headgear, springs, new retainers, expander or the Herbst appliance may experience "tender teeth" for a few days. The movement caused by a new archwire or a bend in a retainer or neckgear can make certain teeth sore when biting into some foods. Putting foods in a blender or cutting them up into smaller pieces is a good way to make this time easier. If biting is easy, but chewing is difficult, use ground up or liquid foods. If biting is difficult and chewing is easy, cut sandwiches and meat up into smaller pieces.

The following are a list of food suggestions you may want to consider when teeth are tender:

  • Proteins: Eggs (scrambled, deviled, poached), grilled cheese sandwich, tuna, milk and milkshakes.

  • Complex Carbohydrates: Pasta, spaghetti, macaroni & cheese, rice, baked potato and pancakes.

  • Fruits: Grapes, oranges, peaches, bananas, strawberries and apples. If you choose apples, remember to cut them up into slices – do not bite into an apple! You may want to try applesauce as an alternative.

  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, spinach, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, creamed vegetables and soups. Sometimes cooked vegetables are eaten more easily; however, you may want to mash them up even further with a fork. Avoid raw vegetables and salads. They are often too hard to chew for sensitive teeth and may cause breakage of appliances.

  • Sandwiches: Egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, turkey, ham or peanut butter & jelly. When choosing peanut butter, opt for the creamy style rather than the chunky one since it contains nuts that may be too hard to chew and can become lodged in the braces. If you prefer whole wheat bread, avoid the kind with nuts and crunchy little kernels of grain. Avoid hard cheeses, bologna, salami, roast beef, French bread or hard rolls or anything that really needs to be chewed thoroughly. Remember, for sandwiches, using a fork and knife may be easier.

  • Snack and Dessert Ideas: Cottage cheese, yogurt, pudding, Jell-O, ice cream and smoothies.