If you want straight teeth, then braces are often the best way to go. This orthodontic device is a common treatment option for patients ages 7 to 15 to correct crooked or even overcrowded teeth. But today, even many adults are wearing braces for the numerous benefits they offer. Headaches, jaw discomfort, earaches, mouth breathing, and even sleep disorders may have a connection to the alignment of the teeth, so braces are more than just cosmetic. Once you’ve been fitted with the new appliance though, proper care of braces is important to maintain your overall oral health. Knowing what foods to avoid and maintaining effective oral hygiene habits will ensure that once your braces are removed you’ll have that bright, straight, and comfortable smile you’ve always dreamed of.
Why Is Good Oral Hygiene So Import with Braces?
When you have braces, you’re adding another component into the environment of your mouth – an area that is already an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Braces complicates that even a bit more, though. It is easy for food, plaque, and other debris to collect and get lodged in the tiny spaces between your teeth, braces, and wires. As this debris collects, it can cause decay and stains. Likewise, food can react with the metal of your braces and the bacteria in your mouth and cause bleaching.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
While braces are sturdy orthodontic appliances, you still need to treat them with care. One component of that care involves avoiding foods that can damage the brackets and wires that hold your braces into place. Likewise, you want to skip foods that will contribute to excessive decay and make it harder to keep your teeth clean. As a general rule of thumb, foods to avoid are any that are hard, sticky, or chewy and will stick to your teeth or get caught in your braces. Examples of foods you should avoid include:
• Sticky or gooey candy bars – As yummy as a rich, gooey candy bar may sound, it will stick in your braces and can even break or bend your wires and brackets. Avoid these candy bars as well as any candy or granola bars with hard nuts.
• Fruit candy – Another sticky food, fruit candy, including fruit roll ups, licorice, and even gummy bears can get stuck in your braces and teeth and cause damage.
• Chewing gum – With gum it’s not a matter of the sugar, it’s an issue with the stickiness of the product. Avoid all gums even if it is sugarless.
• Ice – Crunching ice is one of the easiest ways to cause loose brackets and other issues with your braces, so be sure to avoid this habit. It’s also hard on your teeth in general, so get out of the habit of crunching ice now, and your teeth will thank you for it.
• Hard bread and rolls – Hard breads, like bagels and sub rolls, are hard on your teeth and may loosen your orthodontic appliances. Avoid these foods and opt for softer breads instead.
• Corn on the cob – Corn on the cob and other hard veggies present the potential for loose brackets, broken wires, and other issues. Avoid corn straight from the cob as well as other hard veggies, such as cauliflower and broccoli.
What Foods Can I Eat?
Wearing braces doesn’t have to completely change the way you eat. In fact, you can have most foods as long as they are softer and won’t get stuck in your teeth or in your appliances. Foods that are best for you to eat while you have braces include:
• Soft bread, potatoes, and pasta – If carbs are a staple in your diet, you’re in luck. Most breads and other carb options are safe for your braces, just be sure to avoid those that are hard or especially tough.
• Meat – No, you won’t have to go without meat or other proteins either. You will, however, want to avoid eating meat off of the bone and make sure that you cut whatever meat you are eating in small pieces.
• Fruits and soft veggies – Fresh fruits and veggies are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, so don’t feel like you need to eliminate these. Be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces rather than biting into them as you could dislodge a bracket or bend a wire. And boil or cook any hard veggies to soften them before eating.
• Soup – Soup is a great choice when you have braces because it’s soft and smooth. A warm bowl of soup may even help ease discomfort after getting an adjustment to your braces.
• Ice cream and frozen yogurt – Soft iced treats, like ice cream and snow cones, are still acceptable with your braces. In fact, the coolness may also provide some relief after getting your braces tightened.
• Candy – While you don’t want to go overboard with sugary foods, you can still enjoy some candy if you have a sweet tooth. Avoid sticky candy and those with nuts, caramel, and other substances that will get stuck in your teeth and braces. Peanut butter cups and regular chocolate bars are two good options.
Should I Take Any Other Precautions?
Those suggestions give you a good guideline for what foods to eat and what to avoid when wearing braces. However, you still need to use caution when eating a few other permissible foods. For example, you should be careful when consuming:
• Chewy breads – Be sure to tear them into small pieces rather than biting into them directly to prevent damage to your brackets and wire.
• Chips – Chew chips slowly and eat them one at a time. It’s easy to pop a bracket loose when you bite into a chip or another hard, crunchy food.
• Soda and sugary drinks – Avoid soda and other sugar-laden drinks as much as possible, as these are key players in tooth decay and staining of the teeth.
• Other hard items – Also avoid chewing on other hard objects, such as pens, pencils, and your fingernails. Not only do these items carry a great deal of bacteria, but they can also cause damage to your appliance.
How Should I Clean My Teeth and Braces?
Proper care of braces will keep them in good condition and prevent decay and staining of your teeth. To do so, you’ll need to maintain effective oral hygiene practices. You should get in the habit of brushing your teeth after each meal to remove any food or debris that may have gotten stuck in your braces. As you brush, look in the mirror to make sure any visible food particles have been removed. Floss with a threader or special orthodontic floss at least once a day to clean between your braces and under your wires. If you’ve eaten and do not have your toothbrush with you at the time, rinse your mouth vigorously with water and brush as soon as possible. These are just a few of the primary components involved in the proper care of braces.
With braces, you will feel slight pressure and even tightness, especially after visiting your orthodontist for a tightening. The wires are used to move your teeth into position, which causes the periodic discomfort. Eating the appropriate foods as suggested can relieve the discomfort. Additionally, you may experience rubbing of your braces along the inside of your lips or gums. If this is a problem you encounter, you’ll want to apply wax on the wires to prevent chafing and excessive discomfort. Your orthodontist can provide wax, but you can also find it at most drug stores. If you experience excessive discomfort or pain that does not subside within a day or two, you should contact your orthodontist to address any concerns.
While the length of time you’ll wear your braces depends on how complicated your teeth alignment is, most individuals have braces for 18 to 30 months. After having your braces removed, you’ll likely be given a retainer to wear, which will prevent shifting of your newly straightened teeth. Creating good oral hygiene practices now will help you keep your teeth shining and white even after you have your braces removed. Call Beecroft Orthodontics today to schedule your consultation and start on your journey to a straighter, healthier smile.
239 Garrisonville Rd. Suite #101 Stafford,Virginia
Foods to Avoid While Wearing Braces