Summer Foods to Avoid with Braces
So many delicious foods are at their best in the summer. Warm weather and in-season delights are part of making family memories and enjoying summertime activities—but what if you are in the midst of treatment with your local orthodontist?
There are many delicious tastes of the season that you can enjoy with braces, and a few problem foods to avoid. Let’s take a look at the foods you should avoid with braces, some that are fine if eaten differently, and those that should be avoided this summer.
Foods to Avoid with Braces This Summer
Most things that you bite into with your front teeth can damage your wires, bands, or brackets. Scheduling additional visits for orthodontic services and repairs can really put a cramp in your summer plans! Some of these foods can be prepared in ways that are easier to eat with braces, but, in general, avoid:
Hard Fruits and Vegetables
Biting into an apple or munching on carrot sticks are healthy habits, but they can pop brackets off or bend wires. Some common culprits include:
- Pears, peaches, and apples, when eaten whole
- Carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, when eaten raw in large pieces
- Corn on the cob
Cooked fruits and vegetables are the easiest way to get these essential foods into your diet while you are wearing braces. Corn can be cut off the cob and safely eaten on a plate, where it tastes just as good!
Most grains are soft and easy to chew, but certain breads and grains can cause issues. Whole grains can become embedded in metal or transparent braces. Some grainy foods orthodontic specialists recommend avoiding are:
- Hard crusty bread and bagels are difficult to bite with braces.
- Unground grains like cracked wheat or coarse ground grains can get stuck between braces and teeth, becoming very difficult to remove.
- Whole grain and hard crackers are also an issue for bending wires.
Warm breads and rolls for a few seconds in the microwave oven wrapped in a damp paper towel to make them soft and easy to eat.
Meat on the Bone
Summer BBQs offer many delicious meat dishes, some of which can be hard on your braces. Stringy meats can become stuck in braces or spaces between teeth. Chewing tough meat can loosen bands. Some BBQ treats to watch out for include:
- Beef or pork ribs
- Chicken wings and legs
- Turkey legs
- Burgers and hot dogs on buns
- Jerky or dried meats
To enjoy summer meals, you can eat barbecued meat with a fork in bite-sized pieces or choose fish or chicken breast from the grill instead. Most meats that can be pulled from the bone with a fork are fine to eat, as long as you avoid pulling them apart with your teeth.
Seeds and Nuts
Eating nuts and seeds can be a challenge when you wear braces. Their combination of being small and very hard puts stress on teeth, wires, bands, and brackets. Pieces can become stuck firmly and bent wires can reverse the work being done to straighten teeth. Some of the foods to watch out for are:
- Popcorn, especially “old maids” or unpopped kernels
- Corn “nuts”
- Toffee-covered peanuts
- Sunflower seeds in the shell
- Peanuts in the shell
- Pumpkin seeds
- Pistachios in the shell
- Sesame seeds
Homemade toffee and saltwater taffy are traditional vacation candy shop gifts, but this summer your occasional candy choices will need to be made carefully. Candy is one of the enemies of oral health, so, when you do indulge in a sweet treat, avoid these:
- Chocolate covered nuts
- Gum—even sugar-free gum
- Hard candy and suckers
- Toffee and peanut brittle
- Taffy and caramel
- Gummy candies and licorice
- Fruit rollups
All of these can adhere to brackets or wires, becoming very difficult to remove. Plain chocolate or fudge without nuts are two candies that will not send you searching for a local orthodontist while you are on summer vacations.
Hard Crunchy Foods
Some unexpected problem foods come in crunchy shells or on the side. All of these have the potential to damage your braces or become lodged in your orthodontic appliances:
- Pretzels, potato chips, and corn chips
- Hard taco shells
- Crunchy cookies
- Pizza crust
- Uncooked pasta
- Foods fried extra crunchy
Chewy Things That Aren’t Food
It is easy to get into a habit of chewing on non-food items. These habits cause wear and tear on braces and can set your treatment back. Whenever possible, avoid chewing on:
- Ice cubes
- Plastic straws
- Paper clips
- Pencils and pens
Summer Foods That Play Well with Braces
There are some great summer foods that are definitely on the menu when you have braces. There may never be a better excuse to try new foods and cook up creative alternatives. Even if you have just had your braces for teeth alignment fitted, soft versions of your favorites and frozen treats will make meals fun.
Summer Snacks You Can Enjoy
Without cracking a cookbook, you can enjoy these summer favorites without worrying about damaging your braces while following your orthodontist’s brushing recommendations:
- Banana splits and ice cream sundaes without nuts
- Fresh fruit smoothies
- Ice cream shakes and malts
- Frozen yogurt and custard
- Pasta and potato salads
- Macaroni and cheese
- Baked beans and deviled eggs
- Watermelon, grapes, and kiwis
- Popsicles and fudgesicles
- Jell-O with whipped topping
- Meatballs, grilled fish, or soft meats in small pieces
- Baked, mashed, or “cheesy” potatoes
- Muffins, soft baked cookies, and soft breads
- Cooked or grilled vegetables
- Greek yogurt and cheese
Easy Summer Treats for Braces Wearers
Are you looking for more snack ideas while your braces improve crooked teeth and bite alignment? There are cookbooks that focus on meals that are gentle on your braces. For a quick treat today, try these simple recipes:
- Fruit Smoothie. In a blender add 10 strawberries, sliced, or another fresh fruit in season. Add a half-cup of low-fat milk, 5 ice cubes, and 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream or yogurt. Blend until smooth and enjoy with a straw in a tall glass!
- Fresh Fruit Salad. Cut up those hard fruits into bite-sized pieces and make an easy to eat fruit salad with all of your favorites. This can be as simple as preparing grapes, strawberries, and bananas with some lemon juice, or might be a citrus salad with oranges and grapefruit mixed with a small amount of sugar or sweetener. Add a few mini marshmallows to the mix when ready to serve.
- Trifle. A sweet dessert that can be ready in the fridge, this fresh summer treat is worth celebrating. Layer cubes of sponge cake with fresh fruit, bananas, and whipped topping. Allow to meld together up to 24 hours, if you and your family can wait that long, but a few hours in the fridge is enough to serve this picnic favorite.
Seeing Your Orthodontist Should Be a Treat as Well
Orthodontic treatment should be an exciting and confidence-building stage of life, full of fun experiences and healthy choices. As your family-friendly local orthodontist, at Labbe Family Orthodontics we understand that braces shouldn’t mean missing out on summer memories, instead bringing brighter smiles to your table with these recipes and tasty treats that everyone will love.
Get together with your family and friends this summer and enjoy all that Maryland has to offer. Taking care of your braces, headgear, or Invisalign trays now with the right menu choices will pay off in faster results and strong healthy teeth for years to come. If any summer fun does damage your braces, call us to get things straightened out right away!
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