Holiday foods and braces

Foods to Avoid with Braces During the Holidays

BY Dr. Rooz

No sooner have the stores cleared the 4th of July items off the shelves and it’s on to back-to-school with a side of Halloween candy. But don’t blink, because then the Christmas stuff will be out in droves. There’s no denying the retail world wants to remind us of what is right around the corner, and the recent change in weather has us really realizing that fall is just about here! Whether you’re a fall fanatic guzzling PSLs or a Christmas enthusiast already listening to your favorite merry tunes (my wife is all of the above), there are probably holiday treats in your not-so-distant future.

Why do orthodontist ask patients with braces or clear aligners to avoid candy?

It’s not a secret that dentists and dental specialists don’t exactly love Halloween, since the candy rolls out in early October and everyone is snacking on sugar for weeks on end. It really is true that sugar is terrible for your teeth! But having braces or other orthodontic appliances candy and treats especially tricky (Halloween pun intended). There are two main risks associated with eating candy while having orthodontic appliances; damage to the appliances and oral hygiene issues.

Throughout the journey of ortho treatment you will likely have to modify your diet to some extent. At first, and after monthly adjustments, patients tend to prefer softer foods while their teeth are tender and their lips and gums are adjusting to the wires, brackets, elastics, even clear aligners. Your orthodontist will probably tell you to avoid eating very hard snacks, like nuts or hard candy, as well as very chewy candy such as taffy or gum while undergoing braces treatment.

The reason is that these could damage or break an appliance. Biting down hard, or even at the wrong angle, could cause brackets to come off the teeth, appliances to break off, or wires to snap. While it is relatively easy to see you at the clinic within a few days to fix the issue, this is a completely avoidable problem. Just avoid eat foods on the no list! The foods that were easiest to eat at the start of treatment are the safest ones for your appliances. Beyond that, I like to say that if you really have to ask yourself if it is okay to bite into something, it probably isn’t!


Why does sugary food damage your teeth while you are wearing braces or clear aligners?

The other troublesome issue that comes with appliances and candy is that the various hardware in your mouth can trap food particles. That translates to finding little bits of sugar and holding them down on the surface of your teeth, which is the recipe for cavities and decay! This problem is compounded by the fact that it is challenging to thoroughly clean your teeth while you have appliances and so the damage can increase pretty quickly.

Here at Porth we’re well aware that it takes more than the provider’s warning to stay away from the sugary stuff. It’s delicious and it’s everywhere, including our clinic lobby . So let’s just touch on a few things that can help keep the problems at bay.

Foods to Avoid. For now you just have to skip nuts, hard candy, taffy, popcorn and other super-sticky types of candy like nougat, juju bees, bit o’ honey, sugar babies, Charleston chew, etc. They’ll all still be there when your appliances are removed.

Less is more. This is the time for moderation. The less sugar you put into your mouth, the less that can stick there and wreak havoc. Have one and move on.

Oral hygiene is everything. If you’re eating more sweets it’s especially important to get in there at the end of each day and deep clean your teeth and the hardware in your mouth. Use your flossers, waterpik, electric toothbrush, etc and clean the best you can. Sugar can’t cause damage if it’s washed away!

On the go care. You can’t always get to a bathroom to brush after a meal or snack, we get it. It’s also not practical to carry around all the extras you might need for a deep clean while you have orthodontic appliances. But there are a few simple ways to care for your teeth on the move.

– Rinse your mouth as best you can after eating. Give it a good hard swish around to move candies and food off the surface of your teeth.

– Use flossers to remove anything stuck between teeth or appliances between brushing.

– Drink lots of water. This helps wash down anything in your mouth and move it off your teeth.

Another important thing to consider is oral hygiene when you have clear aligners . Caring for your teeth and your appliances is as important as if you have traditional metal braces, however it is very different. Here are a few quick tips and important fact for patients wearing clear aligners to remember during the sweetest season:

Take aligners out to eat! Aligners prevent you from chewing effectively, and eating with them on can damage them. Make sure you take them out and store them carefully so as not to lose them when you have a meal or a snack.

Brush, rinse, repeat. It’s hugely important to rinse aligners and your teeth after having sweets. Otherwise, the aligner will serve as a trap for sugary residue and hold it tightly on your teeth. This isn’t good for the teeth or the tray. When you’re done, put the aligner back in! This is so important to your overall treatment plan and progress, and you should always make sure they are in your mouth as many hours of the day as is possible.

Oral hygiene is everything. If you’re eating more sweets it’s especially important to get in there at the end of each day and deep clean your teeth and the hardware in your mouth. Use your flossers, waterpik, electric toothbrush, etc and clean the best you can. Sugar can’t cause damage if it’s washed away!

Be mindful of the adjustment phase. Orthodontic treatment means your teeth are moving in your jaw bones, and this comes with some discomfort. For aligner patients, the days following a transition to the next tray means your teeth feel tender. There are a number of ways to manage this, but the easiest way to avoid excess pain is to avoid hard food and candy. The less pressure you place on the teeth, the better.

When you’re in for appointments, don’t hesitate to ask about certain foods or how to care for your teeth during ortho care. We are here to help make this process successful and enjoyable for you. Having braces or appliances is limiting but not restricting. Making good choices for your teeth and your health is part of the journey and the new habits you’ll practice with that perfected smile.