How to eat with braces, manage pain, and stay healthy

Getting braces is an investment in a healthy and beautiful future, and modern orthodontic treatment is far more comfortable than it used to be.

Just after your braces are first put on or tightened, you’re likely to experience some sensitivity. Your treatment is changing the position of your teeth and perhaps even the shape of your mouth, so it’s reasonable to expect a little discomfort.

Over the counter pain relievers can reduce or eliminate your soreness most of the time.

For most people, the biggest challenge is adjusting to new eating habits while wearing braces. Here are some tips to help you stay comfortable while taking great care of your brackets.

How to Eat With Braces

  • Stick to soft foods
  • Avoid crunchy or sticky that can damage brackets
  • Cut food into pieces
  • Take smaller bites
  • Eat slowly and chew carefully
  • Don’t bite into things like burritos, apples, or corn on the cob
  • Chew with your back teeth
  • Use pain relievers to reduce sensitivity

You might notice that your teeth don’t seem to fit together the way they used to. That feeling can make chewing feel awkward, and if your brackets are irritating your cheeks and lips at the same time, the best thing you can do is to eat slowly and carefully.

What do you eat when you first get your braces?

When your braces are new or they’ve just been tightened, you can eat soft or liquid foods like soup, mashed potatoes, meal replacement shakes, and yogurt. Cold foods like ice cream (without nuts or crunchy bits) and semi-frozen cucumber can help ease swelling and pain as long as you don’t try to bite down on anything hard.

As you feel more comfortable with your braces, you can start introducing more soft foods like tortillas, lunch meats, soft steamed vegetables, and seafood.

What kind of snacks can you eat with braces?

Common snack foods like popcorn and crunchy chips shouldn’t be eaten with braces, so stick to soft snacks like muffins, soft cheeses, applesauce, soft cookies, and soft bread. Be careful with sugar intake, since you might be tempted to indulge in more sweets while your favorite crunchy snacks are prohibited.

This is a great time to keep healthy snacks on hand.

A banana can satisfy your sweet tooth without irritating your sensitive teeth or busting your brackets, and savory foods like meatballs, slices of soft cheese, or a tortilla rollup with refried beans and salsa are all safe for your braces.

Good Eating Habits with Braces

If you’re used to taking big bites and eating quickly, you might have a little more trouble with your braces.

Biting into food, even soft foods like sandwiches and wraps, can be painful. You’ll also get stuff stuck in your brackets and risk popping one loose.

Instead of taking big bites, cut your food into small pieces and chew with your back teeth. It will hurt less and it’s better for your braces.

Once some of the soreness goes away, you might be tempted to return to your crunchier favorites like carrots, chips, and apples. It’s okay to eat these carefully, but rather than biting into them, cut or break them into pieces and chew only one small piece at a time with your back teeth. Going too fast can cause you to damage your braces or hurt yourself.

Remember: the discomfort of orthodontic treatment is temporary. Your bright smile is going to last for years to come.

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