Caring for Braces
Although patients are able to eat or drink many foods while in orthodontic treatment, there are certain eating habits that are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances and braces as well as increasing the risk of dental problems. Our aim is to allow our patients to achieve the treatment goals with as few disturbances due to appliance breakage as possible, and to minimize the side effects of poor food choices and poor oral hygiene. Remember, teeth move their best in a healthy environment and in individuals with excellent overall dental heath. Patient cooperation is key to successful orthodontics.
What foods should I avoid?
Food and drink your dentist has suggested may cause dental discomfort should be restricted while wearing braces. Sticky foods are to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. These foods stick to your braces and remain on your teeth for long periods of time. If foods or drinks high in sugar content are to be consumed, we advise having them with regular meals or at one given time of day. Please make sure that careful brushing and rinsing take place immediately afterwards. Snacks should be confined to foods without refined sugar and should be followed by brushing or vigorous rinsing if a toothbrush is unavailable.
Wearing braces limits the foods that you are permitted to eat. Improper foods can bend and distort wires causing treatment delays and extra visits for repairs. In general hard, brittle, crunchy and sticky foods should NOT be eaten during orthodontic treatment. Hard crunchy foods can bend a and break the braces and wires, while sticky foods may loosen them. Certain foods may be eaten if they are prepared in a special way. Whole fruits and vegetables or any raw foods such as apples, celery and carrots should be sliced and eaten carefully. Hard crusty breads should be broken and eaten in small pieces. Corn may be eaten if sliced off the cob.
Do not suck on lemons or limes (citric acid in juice can dissolve tooth enamel) and especially do not suck or chew ice cubes. Chewing ice cubes can be very destructive to your appliances and teeth. Keep fingernails, pencils and other objects out of your mouth. Do not put anything in your mouth that may tend to end, break, pry, pull or knock off the braces. Popcorn can cause harm in multiple ways. The husks from the popcorn can become lodged beneath the braces and cause irritation of the gum tissue. Unpopped kernels can shear or break off brackets as well as bend or dislodge wires.
The following is a list of only some of the foods you should avoid as you should use your own good judgment while eating anything. No matter what you eat, please clean the teeth and gum tissue thoroughly after eating any food and especially before bedtime.
Here are some tips on the types of foods to avoid:
Nuts, peanut brittle
Gum – no way
Taffy and Caramels
Milk Duds etc.
Be careful with these foods:
Carrots – grate or cut into tiny pieces
Apples – cut into wedges – don’t bite
Hard French bread – tear into small pieces
Limit foods with a high sugar content
The acids produced by high sugar content foods can attack for twenty minutes or more each time you eat. So, the best time to eat carbohydrates or other sugary foods is 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. More information