Even though today’s metal braces are sturdy, stable and durable, you still need to treat them with care. This means avoiding certain foods and drinks until you get your braces off, both adults and children alike! You might be disappointed to hear this, but you’ll be glad you followed the rules when you prevent damaging your braces with sticky, chewy or hard food. Here are the top 10 foods and drinks to avoid with braces along with what you should be cautious when eating and which foods are highly encouraged while wearing braces.

Foods to Avoid with Braces

Overall, the general rule of thumb is to avoid hard, chewy, sticky or crunchy foods. Some specific foods and drinks you should avoid include:

  • Chewy candy, taffy and caramels: These can engulf your brackets and pull them away from your teeth. At the very least, sticky candies can wedge themselves under your braces where they’re hard to remove and slowly decay your teeth.
  • Gum: If chewy candy is bad, imagine what gum can do to a set of metal braces.
  • Gooey or hard chocolate: Unfortunately, the same problems with sticky candies apply with gooey chocolate. You should also avoid hard chocolate because the force required to bite into it could damage your braces.
  • Popcorn: The hulls from popcorn have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth even when you’re not wearing braces. They can damage your wires or lodge in deeply where you can’t get them out.
  • Nuts, seeds and chunky peanut butter: Biting into something hard with braces can force your wires out of alignment, calling for a trip to the orthodontist to fix the problem.
  • Hard taco shells and corn chips: Even something as thin and apparently brittle as taco shells and chips can damage your braces.
  • Thick, crunchy crackers: The same problems with taco shells and corn chips apply to crunchy crackers.
  • Corn on the cob: Biting into foods with your front teeth is not recommended while wearing braces. If your family eats corn on the cob with dinner, cut the kernels off before eating yours.
  • Beef jerky: Tearing anything with your teeth while wearing braces is a bad idea.

Drinks to Avoid with Braces

  • Soda (diet and regular): Many people believe that diet soda is okay for our teeth since there’s no sugar in it. However, diet soda is still very acidic, which essentially speeds up tooth decay.
  • Sports drinks: Sports drinks may advertise as being healthy and replenishing, but most of them are very high in sugar, which can lead to tooth decay.
  • Fruit juice: Much like sports drinks, fruit juices are also very high in sugar – leading to tooth decay.

Be Careful When Eating These Foods with Braces

Some foods are okay to eat while wearing braces – you just need to be a little more cautious.

  • Hard candy: Only indulge in hard candy every once in a while to prevent tooth decay. Even then, suck on the candy rather than chewing.
  • Hard cookies: Soften cookies by dipping them in milk. Then they’re safe to eat with braces.
  • Pizza crust, bagels and soft pretzels: These types of bread are difficult to chew and put extra strain on your braces. Cut pizza crust and bagels into small pieces and chew carefully.
  • Burgers: A burger stacked high with add-ons takes a lot of effort to eat. Cut yours into pieces to you avoid damaging your braces.
  • Chicken wings: If you can’t resist the taste of bone-in chicken wings, cut the meat off the bone before enjoying your food.
  • Ice: If you have a habit of chewing on ice, better break that habit now that you have braces. However, if you ever want to suck on ice to reduce discomfort from having your braces adjusted, feel free.
  • Apples and carrots: These healthy snacks are great for your body, but no so great for your teeth if you’re wearing braces. Before snacking, cut your apple or carrot sticks into bite-size pieces.

Foods and Drinks You Can Eat Freely with Braces

With so many rules about what you can’t eat, you may feel very restricted while wearing braces. Fortunately, there are plenty of foods you can eat as-is without fear. This list includes:

  • Bananas, melons and grapes
  • Yogurt, cheese and milk
  • Light crackers
  • Soft cookies
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Pasta dishes
  • Creamy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Ice cream and frozen yogurt