If you’re wearing braces for the first time, you will most likely feel self-conscious about your smile and speech. And that feeling of uneasiness will only increase while eating and right after. It will feel like most of the food you munched on simply got stuck in all the brackets; and they probably did. Soon, your tongue will develop a mind of its own and start exploring around in your mouth every time you eat, and you won’t even realise you’re doing it. And then, of course, you will want to completely avoid smiling and talking during and immediately after a meal, because why would you want to show off all those food bits caught between your teeth and braces?
Eating might become less enjoyable, and more troublesome, after you get braces. And if you eat the wrong kinds of foods, you might cause damage to your brackets which, in turn, might make your treatment time longer. Because pieces of food can easily get caught in the brackets and cleaning your teeth will also take a lot more effort, certain foods will increase your chances of developing plaque and other oral problems.
A slight change in your usual diet is definitely a must when you start wearing braces. When you choose the right kinds of foods and avoid others, eating with braces will not have to be an ordeal each and every time.
What to Eat
The general rule is to choose foods that are soft and does not require biting and/or a lot of chewing. There are actually countless, delicious food options for you!
For breakfast, you can enjoy eggs, bacon, yoghurt, cheese, soft bread, oatmeal, pancakes, muffins (with no nuts), and even cereal with milk as long as you don’t mind eating slightly soggy cereal. If you like having fruits for breakfast, you can slice them into into bite-size pieces; great choices include bananas, grapefruit, grapes, orange, and kiwi. Or turn them into smoothies.
For lunch and dinner, you can have a simple sandwich, mashed potatoes, pasta, noodles, soft meat (such as chicken, turkey, fish, shrimp, and other seafood), meatballs, steamed vegetables (make sure they’re soft), any ground-meat dish (such as chili), and sausages. If you must really have that steak or pork chop, again, make sure they’re cooked tender and cut them into bite-size pieces.
What Not to Eat
In general, you should avoid foods that have a tough texture and are hard to chew; foods that are sticky and sugary; and certain raw vegetables and fresh fruits. Here’s a short list:
- Hard and tough: pretzels, bagels, nuts, pizza crust, beef jerky and other tough meats, chips, hard candy, and ice (whether they’re ice chips or cubes)
- Sticky and sugary: gum, licorice, caramels, chocolates and other candies, peanut butter, jams, and maple syrup
- Raw vegetables and fresh fruits: carrots, celery, cucumber, apples, and pears
As Orthodontics Australia (the Australian Society of Orthodontists’ (ASO) public information and advice channel) emphasises on their website, “Regardless of what types of foods you eat with braces, it is important to keep the crevices between the teeth and around the braces very clean. That means brushing and flossing after meals to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay. Not only can failing to do so damage the teeth and gums, but it can also cause discolouration which can last a lifetime.”