When people get braces, they tend to be worried about their ability to continue eating their favorite treats. Although it can be a bummer to put your favorite snacks aside, it really is an important aspect of preventing possible emergencies when it comes to your braces. Since knowing what you can and cannot eat can be a bit confusing, follow these general rules of thumb to keep your braces, and your teeth, safe from damage.

1. Nothing Hard or Chewy

Anything you are planning to eat with braces, you should first consider how long it’s going to be in your teeth before eating it. If the answer is a long time, such as in the case of hard candies, there’s more of a likelihood of you possibly damaging your braces and so you probably should avoid it. This is the same in the case of chewy candies such as taffy and caramel, as there is a high likelihood these candies could get trapped in the bands or wires of your braces for a long time.

2. Read the Ingredients

It’s crucial that you learn to read the ingredients of any foods you are planning to consume. This is because lots of foods contain ingredients such as acid and sugar, which are bad for your teeth. Even some foods which you may not think contain sugar may have much more than you realize, such as granola bars and cereals. This also includes avoiding sugary beverages such as soda or energy drinks, as the sugar from these can remain on your teeth long after you finish drinking them.

3. Can The Food Cause Damage?

There are several foods that can cause damage to your braces when you eat them. If the food is too large, and cannot be eaten in one bite, such as corn on the cob, the food needs to be cut up as not to damage the brackets or the bands. The same goes for food that could be too tough to eat safely with braces, such as jerky or hard pizza crust. Hard foods, such as almonds, corn nuts, and even some raw vegetables can be hard enough to possibly snap your bands or brackets, so it’s best to avoid them all together or cook the vegetables to soften them.


4. Brush Your Teeth After Every Time You Eat

What you do after you eat with braces is just as important as watching what you eat. When you have braces, it is much more likely that food will get caught in your teeth, even if you avoid all the foods listed above. So, plan on the safe side, and find a way to carry a toothbrush with you so you can brush your teeth after every meal. It’s also recommended to carry floss as well to get all the food out from behind the brackets, that way any leftover food won’t sit on, or damage your teeth.

5. Don’t Chew Gum

Most orthodontists in New Jersey suggest that you completely avoid chewing gum while you have braces. This is because chewing gum can cause the wires to bend, possibly break brackets, or become embedded in brackets in ways that are difficult to remove. Not only that, but most brands of gum are loaded with sugar and it isn’t good to have all that sugar attaching itself to your teeth for the long term. However, if you feel you must chew gum while you have  braces, orthodontists specify you must chew sugar-free gum, and do so sparingly and cautiously.

There Are Good Options

Don’t despair! Although the list of what you can’t eat with braces can be quite lengthy, there are still several ways to enjoy your favorite foods. Most can simply be cut up to an appropriate size or can be cooked so that they are softer and easier to eat. Don’t be afraid to get creative and consider making a smoothie out of some of your favorite difficult to eat fruits, or make a puree of one of your favorite veggies!

Eating Tips

Besides just watching the foods you are eating; it is also critical to ensure you take the time the chew mindfully and with care. Make an effort to take small bites and only use your back teeth to chew. It can also be helpful if you drink lots of water while you eat as this will help soften the foods and make it easier for you to swallow. Drinking water also helps dislodge food that may get caught in your braces while eating.

Kids Braces

If you have a kid or adolescent with braces, part of your job is to not only assist your child with making the proper food choices in your presence but also teach them why they shouldn’t eat certain foods. Show them how to read a food label and which line corresponds to the sugar content. This way they will continue to make choices that are safe for their braces and their teeth even when you aren’t around to monitor their eating. Also be sure to encourage proper teeth brushing after meals, even on the days they have to go to school.


If you have any questions or concerns about eating with braces, it’s best to contact your nearest New Jersey orthodontist and they can help advise you better on which foods are safe and which should be avoided. When in doubt, it’s best not to eat the food in question rather than risk possible damage to your brackets, bands, or teeth. 

Learning what you can and cannot eat with braces is a learning process, and it will likely take some time. Just make sure you are mindful of the possible damages of a food before you ingest it. Also, teach your child or teen with braces to exercise the same caution when they are eating away from your presence. And when in doubt, reach out and ask your orthodontist any questions you may have about foods that are safe for you to eat with braces.