As a parent, you will want your child to eat a nutritious diet and enjoy their food too. Like the 4 million other Americans that have braces, your kid’s braces mean they’ll need to make some changes to eating habits.
Your kid’s going to get braces? Isn’t that going to make eating difficult? Read on to learn 7 tips for eating with braces
1. What’s the Problem?
Braces are fitted for more than one reason. They can straighten teeth so that they look better but they do much more than this too. They can also make teeth easier to clean in the long run.
In the short run there is some discomfort. Also, the changes in diet can take some adjustment. In the end, it’s worth the effort.
Most foods are fine to eat with braces but some might need slightly different preparation. Others need a different technique to eat them. There are a few things to avoid altogether.
2. Damage Limitation
Braces can be damaged by eating the wrong food or eating food in the wrong way. The key is to avoid hard foods that might break the arch wire or a bracket. Some sticky foods can also damage the brace so they should also be avoided.
Damage like this has to be repaired by an orthodontist and the braces are ineffective until the repair has been done. This extends the time your kid will be wearing a brace not to mention the expensive repair bill.
3. Stainless Food
Some foods and drinks can result in staining of your child’s teeth. These are best avoided while your child has a brace fitted.
While a brace is fitted it can be difficult for your child to clean their teeth thoroughly. Some of the surfaces of the teeth are covered by the brackets and other parts are exposed. This makes cleaning uneven and so patches of your child’s teeth can be stained while others are unstained.
It’s so difficult to prevent this from happening that it’s best to remove the problem foods and drinks from your child’s diet. Sugary foods are the main culprit. This can be a good opportunity to reduce this major cause of tooth decay.
4. Gently Does It
When your child has their brace fitted and after any adjustment, they may experience some discomfort. The soreness will reduce over time but you will want to make them feel a little less uncomfortable.
Some foods are gentler on the gums and teeth. Soft foods are best. Any foods that involve biting, chewing or crunching can irritate already sore teeth and even be painful.
Smoothies, yogurt, and low sugar soft deserts are great for painful mouths and are treats too. Remember to encourage cleaning after eating. Soups are the softer savory alternative.
Your kid’s teeth will not always be painful. When the braces have settled in, the sensitivity will wear off. There may be times that harder foods can be eaten but avoid food that might damage the braces.
5. Chew It Right
Eating the right food is only part of the story. It’s important to help your child adjust their eating technique to protect their brace and teeth.
Many kids love to eat an apple or other hard fruit by biting into it. The fruit is pretty good for them and it’s tasty too. You don’t really want to discourage this good eating habit.
The problem is this biting technique is potentially damaging for their brace. Tempting as it is to bite into a juicy fresh apple, it’s to be avoided if you expect to have undamaged and effective braces.
The way to eat hard fruit like apples and pears is to cut it up into smaller pieces. This technique works well for raw vegetables such as carrots too. Slice carrots up into thin strips rather than give your kid a carrot to munch.
Show your kids that they can chew the harder food like apples and carrots with the teeth at the back of their mouth rather than their front teeth. This technique will mean they can protect their brace and still enjoy delicious fruit and raw vegetables.
6. Enjoy Eating with Braces
Eating fun and delicious food can still be part of your kid’s life, even with a brace. There are so many foods to choose from, it can even become fun to try new foods and to eat some old favorites in different ways.
Dairy products are generally safe to eat. Go for soft cheeses, dips, and yogurt. Milk is a less sugary drink as an alternative to fruit juice or soda.
Cooked vegetables that can be easily pierced with a fork are healthy and brace-friendly. Similarly, soft fruits like bananas, strawberries, and plums are fine too. Just remove any stones and cut up fruit for easy eating.
Rice, pasta, and noodles are soft enough for eating. Add sauces and even meat if it’s soft and easily chewed. Fish make a nutritious alternative to other firmer meats.
Bread, with hard crusts, removed, tortillas and soft tacos are all fine. Soft cakes, muffins, and pancakes are good too.
There should be no problem finding delicious and healthy brace-friendly foods.
7. Avoid These Foods
Some foods are best avoided altogether. As well as whole apples, avoid hard fruits and vegetables. Corn on the cob might be delicious but it’s trouble for braces. Strip the kernels of corn off the cob.
Whole nuts are too hard. Try flaked or ground nuts.
Crusty bread, pizza crusts, and crunchy biscuits are too hard for braces. Avoid tougher cuts of meat and snacks like beef jerky. They’re just too tough.
Sticky foods to avoid include caramel, black licorice, and chewing gum. These treats get stuck in the wires and can damage them too.
Find alternatives to sweet sugary drinks. Don’t tempt kids to crunch on ice by leaving it out of cold drinks altogether. Just chill the drink before giving it to them.
Stick with It
Eating with braces might seem a problem to begin with but once you get in the swing of it, it’s fine. Comfort yourself with the thought that millions of other people have overcome this inconvenience before you. It’ll be worth it in the end.
For more advice on living with a brace contact us here.