Foods to Avoid When Wearing Braces and Invisalign
Having a beautiful smile is something that always gets noticed. Now more than ever, people are choosing to correct their smiles and tooth alignment, even as adults, as technology and techniques have eased the process and also made it more accessible to the masses.
Whether you have traditional braces or the popular Invisalign method of aligning teeth, special care must be taken. One area of particular interest is assessing the foods we eat as some foods may cause damage to your braces or teeth during your orthodontic treatment and should be avoided during treatment. But this is a worthy sacrifice!
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we need to be careful, foods to take precautions with or avoid completely, and some helpful alternatives.
Table of Contents
- Why do we need to be careful about food choices when wearing braces?
- Food types to be aware of and safer alternatives
- Foods to Avoid If You Are Wearing Invisalign
- Think Smarter When It Comes to Food Choices
Why do we need to be careful about food choices when wearing braces?
There are a few valid points about wearing braces that are inescapable.
First, braces (and Invisalign) make your teeth considerably more mobile. There are forces at work on your teeth in order to get them to align, which can mean they are a little more loose or wobbly in general as they migrate to a new position in your gum line. Ideally, we do not want to irritate them further by eating foods that may cause pain or break or distort the hardware itself.
Secondly, wires and brackets make general oral hygiene a trickier proposition. Flossing becomes a more difficult prospect and brushing must be thorough to rid the hardware of residues and food debris that can easily get stuck around them.
Finally, everything that the orthodontist puts onto your teeth during the treatment, be it bracket and wires, or attachments for Invisalign treatment, are meant to come off at the end of the treatment. The appliances are designed to come off without causing damage to the tooth surfaces, and it cannot be glued on too strongly. Some foods are just a riskier prospect overall as they can physically damage your braces which will result in an extra trip to the orthodontist and just prolong your treatment. So following these precautions will save you time and hopefully make your experience smoother and stress-free.
Food types to be aware of and safer alternatives
In general, you want to avoid sugary foods for optimum dental health. But in reality, everyone likes something sweet and may want to indulge from time to time.
First Off – Stay Away from Sugary Foods
Sugary foods refers primarily to candy and other sweets. The primary reason to avoid sugary foods has to do with gum health. With brackets and wires filling your mouth, proper brushing and flossing is much more difficult. This means that even with vigilant cleaning, it is still more likely that spots may be missed or not cleaned as thoroughly. Avoiding sugary food helps to reduce the risk of developing cavities and other diseases associated with this.
Stay Away from Sticky, Crunchy, Hard or Chewy Candy
You should ideally cut back and avoid sugary candy when you have braces. Sugar stimulates plaque acids that wreak havoc on your tooth enamel and can encourage cavities or even gum disease.
In particular, you want to steer clear of hard candy, crunchy snacks like nachos or nuts, and also caramel and nougat that are prone to sticking to your brackets and wires. Crunchy shells on candy should be avoided (e.g. large size M&M’s with peanuts, skittles) and anything overly sticky like toffee, taffy, gum, and jujubes are also on the avoid list.
? Pro Tip: If you want something sweet, the rule of thumb for people with braces is to only eat candy that’s soft or melty. That means candies like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and 3 Musketeers Bars are okay. Plain chocolate is also okay, as well as anything that just melts on your tongue.
Fruit and Vegetables
You will need to make some smart choices when it comes to choosing which fruit and vegetables to eat.
While we definitely need to have fruit and vegetables in our diet, you need to take some care in how you consume it as most are often eaten raw. And raw fruit and veg tend towards the hard and crunchy texture of things.
Apples can be a culprit for broken brackets because of the biting action. Instead, for things like apples, celery, carrots, or even corn on the cob it’s best to cut them into smaller manageable bite-sized pieces.
Even a humble salad means having a thorough brush afterwards as leafy vegetables can often tangle in your hardware, and we want to avoid food lingering on or around our teeth to prevent plaque build-up.
? Pro Tip: Smoothies are a great way to get your fruit and vegetable intake without the risk of damaging your braces.
Chewy, Dense Bread
This may sound surprising but dense and heavier bread types like bagels and even pizza crusts or ciabatta bread can cause problems with braces.
Their chewy texture can cause a strain on your hardware.
? Pro Tip: If you want something warm and gooey with cheese, try a lightly grilled cheese sandwich or eat your pizza with a knife and fork and forego the crust as an alternative.
Steak and Other Red Meats
Steak can be problematic to both eat and clean up afterwards.
? Pro Tip: Lighter, less chewy textured meats are easier to handle like chicken or fish. Fish that flakes easily makes it quite easy to eat.
Foods to Avoid If You Are Wearing Invisalign
Invisalign is a removable tray that is clear and normally only visible to the wearer. They are usually taken out for eating, brushing and flossing, or cleaning the trays. The rest of the time they should be in the patient’s mouth.
It is still advisable that some foods should be avoided so that the alignment achieved isn’t disrupted by excessive pressure on your teeth.
You will ideally need to avoid:
- Hard, crunchy foods and candy that can push teeth out of alignment
- Sticky and chewy foods that can remain on tooth surfaces after eating and increase bacteria and plaque build-up under your tray
- Drinks that can cause stains on your trays like wine, tea, or coffee as well as acidic drinks like organs and grapefruit juices
- Hot drinks can distort the thermoplastic trays and interfere with your alignment.
Best practice will mean removing your trays while eating or drinking anything and keeping a brush handy to clean afterwards before replacing your trays to avoid trapped debris or residual acids and staining.
Given Invisalign can be removed it does give the patient the added convenience (not having to clean food off braces) and satisfaction of having more flexibility in food choices than wearing braces.
Think Smarter When It Comes to Food Choices
With a little ingenuity, you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out when it comes to enjoying your favourite foods even when you have braces.
There are some simple swaps that will make your braces treatment more manageable and ensure you don’t have to make extra trips to your orthodontist for remedial help.
Keep in mind these are small sacrifices to achieving your perfect smile. If you maintain excellent oral hygiene along the journey you will set up great habits for a lifetime with a dazzling smile.
Contact PacificWest orthodontists located in the heart of Vancouver and Surrey, B.C., for more information on orthodontic treatments including braces and Invisalign. We look forward to hearing from you and getting you on the right track to a perfect smile.