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What can I eat now that I have braces?

It is important to be very careful with your diet when you are wearing orthodontic appliances. Incorrect diet leads to:

  • Breakages of appliances which causes treatment to take longer
  • Tooth decay; and
  • Gum disease

Tooth Decay

The most prevalent disease in the world is tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when acid attacks the surface enamel of the teeth, dissolving the enamel and causing holes (cavities) in the tooth. If left unchecked, the acid continues to dissolve the tooth as it penetrates deeper, finally reaching the pulp chamber (where the nerves and blood vessels are located) and causing extreme pain and abscess formation.

Everybody has all sorts of different bacteria (germs) living in their mouth including the plaque on their teeth and gums. Just like us, the bacteria need food for survival. Some of these bacteria can eat sugar as their food source which would not matter except for the fact that they have the ability to turn sugar into acid as they process it. It is this acid which the bacteria produce from the sugar they eat which does the damage to our teeth.

“Sugar” includes white sugar, brown sugar, icing sugar, raw sugar dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose, honey, maple sugar, molasses, treacle, syrup and golden syrup. Sugars are simple carbohydrates and are present in virtually all soft drinks, cordials and many of our processed foods. They also occur naturally in many unprocessed foods.

The longer sugars are in the mouth before the teeth are brushed and the more frequently sugary foods are consumed, the greater the risk of tooth decay. It is obviously much harder to clean your teeth when you are wearing braces. There are so many places where the bacteria can hide in the plaque and be missed by your toothbrush.

For this reason we strongly recommend that you do not eat sugary food or have sugar drinks while you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you do have sugar, keep it for very special occasions and clean your teeth afterwards. Remember, the longer you leave sugar on your teeth the longer you give the bacteria time to make the acid which can destroy your teeth.

The cola drinks are also a problem. They are fairly acidic which means they have enough acid in them to attack your teeth enamel in the stagnant areas around the brackets and bands and this can leave white marks (or worse) on your teeth after the braces are removed.

Gum Diseases

Poor oral hygiene, an unhealthy diet, or smoking can cause gums to swell up and bleed easily. Gums should look pink and healthy, not angry and bleeding. A balanced diet will ensure healthy gums which can be maintained with careful and regular tooth brushing with a soft toothbrush.

Dietary Rules for Orthodontics

  • If you can cut up with a knife and fork you can eat it
  • Do not eat anything that is hard, sticky or sweet
  • Cut healthy food such as apples and carrots up into small pieces
  • Do not drink any cola drinks
  • Suck on water based ice blocks, DO NOT chew them
  • Do not chew biros, pencils, rulers, finger nails, chewing gum etc

What can I eat now that I have Braces?

Orthodontists attach braces to your teeth with a small amount of special cement. This cement is designed to hold the brackets and bands against your teeth during normal orthodontic treatment and when it’s time to remove the braces it is gently removed from your teeth easily without leaving any permanent marks.

It doesn’t take much force to remove or ‘break’ the braces off your teeth. That’s good because it allows for easy removal when the time is right. On the flip side, this can be difficult for you because any heavy force put on your braces could break them off and extend the treatment time.

Hard and sticky foods will break off brackets, bend wires and loosen bands, which in turn will extend treatment time. Foods and drinks high in sugar and acid could cause cavities, calculus build up and ugly stains on your teeth.

Initially, limit your diet to soft and healthy foods. I’m not saying you can only eat broccoli and mashed potatoes while wearing braces but there are just certain types of food that need to be avoided while wearing braces.

HARD FOODS (including ice)

Anything that is hard cannot be chewed with braces on. Remember, braces are fragile and strong forces from hard foods will break them off. Damaged appliances will extend treatment time.

STICKY FOODS

Braces can be pulled apart with sticky foods. Again this will extend your treatment time.

ANYTHING HIGH IN SUGAR (including soft drink)

Braces make it harder to keep your teeth clean. Sugar will feed the bacteria that cause cavities. If you do eat or drink any foods high in sugar, brush your teeth immediately. A can of soft drink has 10 teaspoons of sugar in it.

FOODS TO AVOID

  • Ice – do not crunch ice
  • Nuts, Potato chips, Peanut brittle, Popcorn, Hard Pretzels
  • Corn on the cob – cut the corn off the cob with a knife
  • Doritos, corn chips, hard tacos etc
  • Hard bread rolls and bagels
  • Minties, fantails, chewy toffee, chewing gum, hard lollies, chupa chups, red skins, warheads, toffee apples
  • Apples and Carrots – do not bite into whole pieces. Cut them into wedge sticks.
  • Do not use your teeth to “open” things like bottles, lids etc or chew on pens and pencils etc.
  • Limit your snacks and eat 3 healthy meals a day

Remember to always drink water not only to keep your teeth healthy but to keep your body healthy!

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