Portland kids and teens are so busy these days with school, sports, and social activities that it’s super important they get nutritious foods to keep them charging ahead. However, getting them to eat the right foods seems to always be a difficult battle. Throwing braces into this equation can make things even more problematic. But don’t worry, there are plenty of good options and substitutes for those favorite foods that are also braces-approved!

Why is it Important to Avoid Certain Foods While Wearing Braces?

Braces can be hard on the teeth and gums if not cared for properly, potentially causing gum disease, or even making teeth higher risk for cavities. Therefore, avoiding certain foods that can bend the wires and damage the braces is an important aspect of quick, efficient orthodontic treatment. Hard crunchy foods can dislodge the braces from the teeth, slowing treatment down and increasing the overall duration of orthodontic care.

What Are the Worst Foods to Eat With Braces?

  • Popcorn. This is probably the most well-known food to avoid while wearing braces. Although it is a movie-goers staple, it must be avoided while wearing braces. Why? That hull or husk part of the kernel can get caught below the gums and the braces, which makes it next to impossible to get it out, leading to all sorts of problems. Also, we’ve all bit down on an un-popped or partially popped kernel that jolts our teeth, which can pop the braces right off.
  • Chips. Whether we are taking about taco, potato, or veggie, any type of chip needs to be avoided. Better yet, anything that has an audible crunch while eating can damage the braces and should be avoided.
  • Nuts. All types of nuts are best avoided during orthodontic treatment. Although very healthy and a great source of nutrients, they can bend wires and break off braces. Instead, opt for smooth nut butters, but try to avoid the crunchy versions.
  • Corn-on-the-cobb, carrots and apples. Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods for kids and teens to eat…and often some of their least favorites! But they won’t get a pass on these nutritious vitamin-rich foods just because of braces. Instead, simply cut them up into bite size pieces or cook them to take away the crunch. And for corn-on-the-cobb, a summer time staple, make sure to cut the corn off the cobb. This makes it totally fine to eat with braces.
  • Chicken wings, drumsticks, and ribs (meat on a bone). We all know that cooking meat on the bone can make for a much more flavorful meal. However, biting onto the bone can cause great damage to the braces. Similar to corn-on-the-cobb, simply cut the meat off the bone after cooking and enjoy!
  • Hard candy. Candy in general can be either hard and crunchy or sticky and chewy, all of which is bad for braces, not to mention bad for your teeth. It’s best to avoid all candy, but if you’re going to indulge, make sure and eat the less crunchy, softer candy. Chocolate is our favorite brace-friendly candy.
  • Ice. Although technically not a food, chewing on ice is one the worst things you can do while wearing braces, and it can be very damaging for your teeth in general. Whether undergoing orthodontic treatment or not, you should never chew on ice.
  • Gum. This is an “on the fringe“ food. Although it won’t really damage the braces, it can stick to them and dislodge the wires. More importantly, ALWAYS chew sugar-free gum! Sugar gum (think Bubblicious and Juicy Fruit) can cause major cavities and should be avoided. Some patients can actually get relief from chewing gum, as it can help with the discomfort after a braces adjustment. Gum with xylitol is our top recommendation.

What Can I Eat With My Braces?

There are many delicious foods that you can eat with your braces. In fact, there are tons of cookbooks out there specifically designed for braces-friendly meals. Many of these books give alternatives to the hard and crunchy foods kids love. The best foods are going to be soft and smooth in texture like pastas, mashed potatoes and smoothies. Some other favorites are soups, yogurt (almost all dairy foods), and soft fruits (like bananas).

Equally important as to the actual foods you eat is how you eat them. Cutting all foods into small, bite sized pieces can help keep your braces attached. Furthermore, consuming small pieces of food is better for our digestive system anyway. You’ll probably also find yourself naturally biting and eating with the side teeth a bit more than the front teeth, which is totally normal.

We Love Sharing Tips and Tricks for Making Braces Easier

We have many of other suggestions and tricks to help with making meal time (and snack time) easier while wearing braces. Call, text or email our Portland location to set up a complimentary consultation with our board-certified orthodontist!

Portland Braces Treatment


This blog serves to provide general information about dentistry topics to help answer your questions. The above content is for informational purposes but is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice from a licensed pediatrician or pediatric dentist. If you have a dental concern for yourself, your child or another adult, please schedule a consultation with us so you can speak with a dentist.

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