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Eating with Braces
By Jerome Shuman, DMD, MS
Board Certified Orthodontist
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When you have braces, it is important to take care of them and not break anything. When a part of your braces breaks, your teeth can stop moving and sometimes can even move the wrong way! It often takes a longer appointment to repair a broken appliance and get the teeth moving the right direction again. This results in a loss of treatment time. The end result is that loose or broken braces or appliances often mean you will need braces for a longer time.

If you are careful in watching what you eat during treatment and can avoid breaking any part of the braces, your treatment will go much smoother and you will more likely get your braces off on time. There are many foods that can be safely eaten with braces. This list of foods to avoid is designed for your benefit: to prevent your braces from breaking for the fastest time in braces, and to keep your teeth protected from stain and decay, so that they look as great as possible after the braces are removed. Fast treatment and a great smile are your rewards for following these guidelines.

The following four types of foods should be avoided when you have braces:
Hard Foods
Sticky Foods
Foods High in Sugar Content
Acidic Foods

Hard foods
Hard foods can break brackets, loosen bands, and bend wires. Avoid hard foods such as:
Apples or Carrots (unless cooked or cut into small pieces)
Ice – Do not chew on ice!
Corn on the Cob
Hard Candy
Peanut Brittle
Hard Pretzels
Pizza Crust

Sticky foods
Sticky foods can also break brackets, loosen bands, and bend wires. Avoid sticky foods such as:
Gummy Bears
Any sticky candy in general

Foods High in Sugar Content
Foods high in sugar content cause bacteria in your mouth to start producing acids which can cause permanent stains and damage to your teeth. If you must eat sugary foods every once in a while, make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly immediately after sweet foods.

Acidic Foods
Acidic Foods can also cause permanent stains and damage to your teeth. Avoid acidic foods such as:
Sodas (even diet sodas can be very acidic)
Lemons and lemon juice

Bubble gum should be avoided.
Sugarless gum in small amounts may be acceptable. Check with your orthodontist.

Other Precautions
Do not bite through hard foods with your front teeth. This may loosen your front brackets
Do not chew on pens, pencils, or fingernails as this may break parts of your braces.
Remember to brush and floss your teeth to keep them strong and healthy.
If you experience a part of your braces that is loose or broken, you can call your orthodontics provider. You can also see our Orthodontic Emergencies section to learn how minor orthodontic problems may be handled at home.

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Dr. Shuman is a Board Certified Orthodontist practicing in Portland, Maine. Read more about Dr. Shuman or visit his orthodontic practice online at




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