Previous article
How to prepare your child for Braces

4 food groups to avoid with Braces

By Anthony May 23, 2015

As a parent, the decision to get braces for children is an enormous investment in their future wellbeing. Braces are not always the most desirable option from your child’s point of view; they take some special care and require a few lifestyle changes in order to be effective — including dietary modifications. One of the questions kids often have is “what can’t I eat while I have braces?”. To help answer that, here are 4 food groups to avoid with braces as well as some simple substitutions to ensure your child doesn’t miss out.


1.High sugar foods

We all know that high sugar foods are bad for your teeth — they increase the risk of plaque and trips to the dentist to fill cavities. However, sugar is particularly detrimental to those undergoing orthodontic treatment because it clings to braces — meaning it lingers for longer and is more likely to cause decay.

Lollies, cakes and ice cream are obvious culprits, but also be wary of hidden sugars in foods you might not expect, such as organic juices, sports drinks and health foods. While sweets do not need to be avoided completely, consuming them will mean your child needs to be particularly vigilant in following the tooth hygiene instructions as directed by your orthodontist, to keep them clean.


2. Crunchy or hard foods

Any foods that need to be bitten on with force can dislodge the wires and brackets of braces. When this happens, an appointment will need to be made with your orthodontist for immediate repairs, as the metal components can scrape or irritate your child’s mouth and cause pain. So foods like crusty bread, potato and corn chips, nuts, muesli bars and crackers are best avoided for the duration of treatment.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but fruit and vegetables are not always the best thing for your childs’ health either! Very hard or crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery and carrots can be equally damaging to braces — but that doesn’t mean they should be eliminated from the diet altogether. Instead, served cooked vegetables like mashed potato, stir fries, pumpkin soup or casseroles, and stick to softer fruits such as bananas, berries, stone fruit, fruit puree or canned fruit. This will ensure your child still obtains the necessary nutrients without harming their braces or causing discomfort.


3. Acidic foods

Salad dressings, lemons and limes, pineapple, pickles, carbonated drinks and other high acid foods have a similar effect on teeth to sugar. These foods can lead to erosion of tooth enamel and require a thorough cleaning post eating. There’s already extra care required in keeping their teeth clean, so if possible these foods and drinks should be limited in your child's diet.


4. Chewy foods

Any food that requires heavy chewing can lead to problems in braces for kids. Chewing gum, toffee and other chewy lollies are a big no go. Other less obvious foods like meat on the bone style steak or chops can be tricky to eat and are best avoided. That doesn’t mean the family bbq is off the meal planner, it just means these sorts of foods need to be cut into smaller, more manageable pieces. It’s also better if your child takes care to eat chewy foods slowly, to limit discomfort or damage to their braces.


Smile-friendly foods and other suggestions

Don’t be concerned if your child needs braces and is a fussy eater, there’s still plenty to choose from. Your child doesn’t need to eat separate meals from everyone else; instead, consider feeding your family crowd pleasers such as pasta, meatloaf, risotto, tender meats like chicken or fish, quiches or omelettes, pizzas and slow cooked dishes or stews. This month, we’ve got a handy printable meal plan available, to help you cater to a child with braces and satisfy hungry home with minimal fuss.

That said, not all types of braces will require changes to lifestyle or eating habits. Contemporary treatments such as Invisalign ® allow braces to be removed when eating, so there’s no need to avoid their favourite foods. For more information about Invisalign treatment, and to see if it’s right for your child, have a look at our Invisalign page or book in for a consultation with Dr Anthony Pistolese.

As tempting as it may be, these food groups to avoid with braces are not worth the risk.  They could damage your child's braces and it may mean they’ll need to undergo treatment for longer than initially expected. Likewise, make sure your child understands why these foods need to be avoided too; it’s important that he or she realises that braces are only a temporary treatment, and one that will grant them a beautiful smile in the long-term.

New Call-to-action

Next article
12 months of healthy teeth [Infographic]