Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, helping you achieve a perfect smile isn’t our only goal. We want your orthodontic experience with us to be rewarding and stress-free, from your first appointment to your last! When you make the choice to improve your smile with braces, you may feel equal parts excited and nervous. Like anything new, treatment will come with quite a few changes. Most are minor, but a few can take some getting used to, including food restrictions.
Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves for patients, but they’re necessary to protect both your braces and your teeth during the treatment process. While all your hard work will be worth it once your braces are removed and you see your beautiful new smile, we want to help keep things simple for you between now and then. That’s why our team has put together this list of orthodontist-approved foods you can indulge in without worry! Keep reading below for tips on how you can successfully handle any dietary challenges you may face in the months ahead.
REMEMBER: YOU WON’T BE IN BRACES FOREVER
It takes time and effort to improve your oral health and straighten your smile, but there will be some days where it feels like treatment will last forever. We promise it won’t! If you can accept from the beginning that you’ll have a few temporary limitations, things will go much more smoothly throughout the process. Before you know it, your braces will be off and you’ll be enjoying a straighter, healthier smile!
DENTAL HYGIENE IS ESSENTIAL FOR BRACES PATIENTS
Oral care is important for everybody, orthodontic patient or not, but it’s even more essential for braces patients to take good care of their teeth and gums. You should have a good oral hygiene routine in place throughout the treatment process, including brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing every night before bed.
Taking care of your mouth doesn’t stop there, though! You should aim to drink about eight glasses of water a day and try to eat a diet that’s rich and varied in vitamins and minerals. You may not be sure how to manage that when you already have restrictions on what you can eat. Don’t worry! There’s still a wide range of healthy foods you can eat while you’re in braces.
START YOUR DAY OFF RIGHT
Lots of cereals are too crunchy to eat right out of the box if you’re in braces, but most will soften enough if you allow them to sit in milk for a few minutes. If “soggy” cereal doesn’t sound particularly appealing to you, try oatmeal or grits instead!
You’ll want to stay away from crusty breads since they can cause problems for you, but there are plenty of other bread products you can enjoy, like bagels and sliced sandwich bread. Toasting them isn’t an issue as long as it’s on a very light setting. This goes for frozen waffles or french toast sticks, too.
Most fruits are fine to eat while you’re in braces, but you may need to take a few precautions with some. Biting into whole apples can cause damage, so these should always be sliced into smaller pieces or blended into a smoothie or juice first. You should also be careful with fruits that have seeds or stones, like peaches, nectarines, and cherries. While these are soft on the outside, biting down on the hard inner core can bend or even break a bracket.
BEAT THE LUNCHTIME SLUMP
It may be a sick day staple, but soup is nutritious, filling, and with little to no chewing involved, it’s perfect for days when your mouth is feeling a little tender due to adjustment appointments.
Salads are typically full of vitamins and minerals that help protect your teeth from cavities and tooth decay. Most of the ingredients are braces-friendly, but be sure to cut cucumbers and peppers into small pieces and steer clear of the croutons!
As long as your sandwiches are made with soft bread, you can dig into them throughout treatment. Common fillings like ham, tuna, deli sliced chicken, and cheese are also compatible with braces. Bread can get stuck in your braces, so you may want to cut your sandwich into smaller pieces and brush after you eat to make sure you’ve removed any stubborn food particles.
FINISH THE DAY WITH A FILLING DINNER
Some days you may not want to put too much pressure on your mouth due to temporary soreness. At times like these, fish can be a great alternative to tougher cuts of meat like beef and pork. Not only is it naturally soft and flaky, but fattier fish like tuna and salmon in particular are a great source of vitamin D. This helps your body absorb and use calcium more effectively.
Rice and pasta
These family favorites are easy to eat and won’t cause any issues with your braces, but be careful when adding other elements into your meal. For example, chicken should be soft and shredded, or cut into small pieces, before eating. Meatballs should be tender and not overbaked. If you’re adding cheese, make sure it’s melted and not baked until it it’s crunchy!
You should avoid raw vegetables while you’re in braces, especially in the early days of treatment. Crunchy carrots, celery, and broccoli can cause problems on their own, but boiling, baking, or steaming them is the perfect solution. Corn shouldn’t be consumed on the cob, but it’s fine in a pile by itself. Most other veggies are great options for braces, however you choose to cook and consume them!
FOR THE BEST ORTHODONTIC EXPERIENCE, TRUST LEAVER & GARDNER ORTHODONTICS
There’s no denying that treatment with braces requires some extra effort on your part, especially where food is involved. However, we think you’ll be surprised by how quickly it goes. It can be helpful to remember that making these kinds of changes to your diet will benefit not only your smile, but many other aspects of your life as well. Improving your oral health, total body health, and your smile can make the wait feel more than worth it!
If you’re in the Las Vegas area and would like to know more about how orthodontics can give you a smile you want to share with the world, we’d love to meet you. Get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation!