Top 5 Worst Foods with Braces

What can I eat with my braces on?

Families have lots on their plates these days, and that includes yummy meals. When braces get added to the equation, those yummy meals and snacks can change a little bit. Staying away from the wrong foods is very important when wearing braces, because you want your teeth to be straight AND beautiful when the braces come off. So, to keep teeth stain-free and aligned, let’s go over the most important foods to avoid.

In general, we want to stay away from hard, crunchy foods such as nuts, carrots, and hard candy. These foods can bend wires and pop off brackets. Some foods are extra bad though. Here is the list of the Top 5 worst foods for braces.

The Top 5 Worst Foods for Braces

  • Hard or Sticky Candy – Sugar in general is something to stay away from with braces because it’s harder to clean your teeth. Sugar is what feeds the bacteria in your mouth, and when they are fed they produce acid! This acid can cause tooth scars and even cavities, so it’s best to avoid candy. Hard candy in particular can also cause broken brackets when you bite down on something like a peppermint, jawbreaker, Jolly Rancher, or butterscotch.
  • Popcorn – You wouldn’t think popcorn would be bad for your braces, but the popcorn kernel is an emergency visit waiting to happen! The reason why is they get stuck between your teeth and down in your gums. Normally, this is not such a big deal, but when you have braces and a wire on your teeth it can make the kernel almost impossible to get rid of. That leads to painful swelling of the gum tissue which requires removing the wire to clean out the area.
  • Ice – While not really a food, people eat ice all the time. Chewing ice actually damages teeth normally, but it’s even worse for brackets. The ice makes the glue under the bracket cold and brittle, so when you bite down it makes the bracket pop off! #SayNoToTheSnow.
  • Beef Jerky – If you’ve ever had beef jerky, you know it takes an awful lot of effort to chew. That effort is hard on the brackets, especially if you are ripping off the jerky with your front teeth. If you want those front teeth looking beautiful, stay away from the jerky.
  • Raw Carrots and Whole Apples – These treats are so healthy, but they require biting with the front teeth. This can shear the brackets on the front teeth right off! Instead, it’s best to cut up carrots and apples into small pieces so you can eat them with your back teeth.

So why is it so important to not break brackets anyway?

Well, teeth have amazing memories. Every time a bracket breaks, the tooth that it’s on tries to go back to where it used to be when you started treatment. That means that not only is the tooth not moving to where we want it to go, but it’s often moving backwards! That translates into more time in braces and more time before we achieve that awesome smile you want. Our amazing team is great at teaching patients which foods to eat and which to avoid, so don’t worry. Many patients don’t even break one bracket during treatment. If you can eat the right foods, brush well, and keep your brackets in tip-top shape, you’ll be showing off your pearly whites in no time!

Written by Dr. Michael Rasmussen, DDS, MS

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