Snack options for those wearing braces are not as limited as some might think. For a brief period following the initial installation of braces and again after subsequent adjustments, one may need to stick to softer foods. But for the rest of the time, snack options are wide open…well, almost. Read on for a rundown of the types of snacks that are safe for people wearing braces, as well as those that should be avoided during orthodontic treatment.
Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to snacking with braces, some may believe that healthy choices such as crunchy raw fruits and vegetables are off limits during treatment, but the reality is that most people will be able to continue enjoying these types of snacks while wearing braces, provided they are cut into thin slices or small, bite-sized pieces—which can optionally be paired with dip, yogurt, or even smooth chocolate sauce (hey, dark chocolate is healthy, right?).
Softer fruits and veggies that will be manageable during virtually all phases of treatment include bananas, berries, grapes, and sliced avocado and cucumber.
Apple sauce and fruit cocktail are also viable options (especially for sore mouths) that come in convenient, portable containers; when choosing the latter, look for varieties that are packed in juice rather than syrup to avoid extra sugar.
Yogurt (and yogurt-based smoothies) and ice cream are safe snacks for all phases of orthodontic treatment, just avoid the varieties that contain hard chunks like nuts and chocolate chips. Puddings and custards are safe sweet snacks for braces wearers as well.
Soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, string cheese, brie, and thin slices (or small pieces) of harder cheeses like cheddar are satisfying snacks that are also excellent sources of protein.
Speaking of protein, small pieces (or thin slices) of cold meats go great with cheese and/or crackers and can make a satisfying snack or light meal. Hard boiled eggs are another good snack choice for those who wear braces.
Soft baked goods such as muffins (again, sans chunks), warm tortillas, soft cakes and breads, and even some crackers are generally safe snacks for those wearing braces, but the smoother and softer, the better: Proceed with caution when it comes to harder or grainier items like crusty breads and granola bars.
French fries, potato chips, cheese puffs, and soft pretzels also make the list of safe baked snacks for braces wearers.
Candies and Other Sweets
Hard candies that can be sucked on rather than chewed are fine for braces wearers, provided they resist the urge to chew; however, most candies fall into the category of “chewy” and should be avoided by those wearing braces during all phases of treatment. When craving a sweet treat, opt for some of the choices mentioned above like ice cream, pudding, soft cake, or smoothies. Jello and cream pie are safe choices as well.
Snacks to Avoid
Whether you are already wearing braces or are currently researching orthodontic treatment, no doubt you have heard or read of those dare devils who claim they ate everything they wanted while wearing braces and had no problems whatsoever. Although that may be true for a lucky few, the potential pain, added expense, and delay or addition of treatment that can result from damage caused by eating certain types of foods is just not worth the risk. The following are snacks widely recognized as those that should be avoided during all phases of orthodontic treatment:
Hard food items such as ice (yes, ice!), chocolate chips, pizza crust, croutons, hard pretzels, and nuts, and chewy treats like Starburst, Skittles, caramels, Tootsie Rolls, jelly beans, licorice, and of course, chewing gum.
A note about popcorn: Popcorn is generally viewed as one of those items that should be avoided, as the kernels and hulls can cause damage to braces and even the teeth themselves.
Word on the street is that some brands do make a hulless popcorn, but even so you would still have to be careful to avoid any kernels and be prepared for (lots of!) extra cleaning time after eating.
The easiest choice is just skip the popcorn altogether during your orthodontic treatment, which will be over before you know it…especially if you minimize complications by following your orthodontist’s instructions on what (and what not) to eat!
While there are other braces friendly snacks not listed in this post, what is provided here covers a wide range of safe snacks for you or the braces wearer in your life. Remember, if it is hard or chewy, it generally should be avoided. And when in doubt, just ask your orthodontist to be sure.
If you are in the Vancouver, WA area but don’t have an orthodontist, give us a call at 360.883.6713 to schedule your free consultation and exam with Dr. Irwin, where we will be happy to answer all of your questions (including those about which foods are safe to eat while wearing braces).