Undergoing orthodontic treatment can be very challenging for adults and young children. One of the big questions, after you find out how long you’ll have to wear them, is… Will I have to change what I eat? Unfortunately, both children and adults will need to avoid certain foods or treats while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Certain foods cause problems with orthodontic braces, and knowing what they are so that you can find alternatives, will make for an easier course of treatment. Eating or drinking the wrong thing can lead to brackets or wires breaking loose, tooth decay, and unsightly staining during orthodontic treatment.
Foods and Habits To Avoid
It is always recommended to follow a well balanced diet as this gives you the most benefit in your overall health as well as your dental health. The following are the types of foods to avoid to give you the best chance for orthodontic success:
-Avoid Sticky and Sugary Foods. Cutting back on hard (nerds), sticky (milkduds), and gummy candies, white bread, donuts, oreos, etc. are always a good choice even without orthodontic braces. While wearing orthodontic brackets and wires theses sticky and acidic foods will stay trapped between the brackets and wires. This increases the likelihood of developing tooth decay during orthodontic treatment. The stickiness can also lead to broken wires and brackets.
-Avoid High Acid/ High Sugar Beverages. Soft drinks with high acid and high sugar can break down the bracket bonds and cause loosening of brackets, staining and decay. Alcoholic beverages have higher acids, dry out the mouth and cause tooth decay. Red wine may cause staining of the teeth and adhesive bond material around brackets.
-Eat Smaller Pieces Of Food. Cut your food into smaller pieces and avoid biting into foods if possible. Break pieces off with your fingers or use a knife and fork. This will make them less harmful to your braces. Large pieces of something as seemingly harmless as an apple can have the effect of breaking down your brackets and loosening them. Broken brackets require increased visits to the orthodontist and can potentially delay results. Biting into large sandwiches, gnawing on ribs or chicken wings, nibbling on a cob of corn, can all cause loosening of brackets. A good tip is to cut the apple into smaller pieces, take the meat off the bones and slice the kernels off the cob.
-Avoid Hard, Crunchy, Chewy Snacks. This includes popcorn, corn nuts, hard pretzels, beef jerky, bagels, pizza crusts. These can break orthodontic brackets and once again delay orthodontic care.
-Biting Or Chewing On Non-Edible Items. Nervous habits can do harm to our braces. These can include biting on nails, pens or pencils, using tooth picks.
-Bubble Gum. Bubble gum is the enemy of braces. It gets stuck inside all the grooves of the brackets and wires.
-Ice. Chewing ice can damage the bond between your teeth and your braces. There is also a good chance you can fracture your teeth as well.
-Highly Staining Foods and Smoking. If you are wearing clear (white) porcelain brackets, or any elastics, they can stain from red wine, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, and cigarette smoke.
While it may seem like all foods are harmful there are plenty of healthy alternative snacks that do not harm your orthodontic braces. These can include yogurt, jell-o, pudding, cheese, and even chocolate bars (without nuts of course).
Orthodontic care will lead to an improved smile as long as you follow good habits. You need to be diligent in caring for your braces and maintaining good at home dental hygiene. Follow the instructions from your orthodontist, and avoid harmful foods and habits. Doing your best should help you avoid many problems, wasted time, embarrassing staining of teeth, and dental decay. Visit your dentist every 3 months during orthodontic treatment and continue with routine dental examinations.