Braces-Friendly Eating Tips: Dietary Guidelines for Orthodontic Patients

When you abide by the rules of what to eat and what not to eat when wearing braces, you're doing yourself a favor. Your orthodontist gives you dietary guidelines for a reason. When you are wearing braces, it is important to avoid certain foods that can damage the orthodontic appliances, brackets, and wires, which may cause delays in treatment. The key rule is: nothing hard, sticky or chewy! Here's a handy red-yellow-green light list of do's and don'ts when it comes to snacking while wearing braces. You can also check out our complete list of orthodontic dietary guidelines and more.

RED LIGHT (Never Eat!)
Nuts, Popcorn, Chewing Gum, Hard Pretzels, Pizza Crust, Croutons, Gummy Bears, Caramels, Jelly Beans, Licorice, Jujubes, Chocolate Chips, Ice cubes, Skittles, Starburst, Smarties, M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, Pens and Pencils

YELLOW LIGHT (Use caution, cut up & chew with back teeth.)
Nacho Chips, Bagels, Ribs, Chicken Wings, Raw Vegetables, Hard Fruit (i.e. apples, unless sliced thin or cut in small pieces), Fruit with Pits (i.e. peaches), Corn on the Cob, Crusty Bread, Granola Bars, Foods high in sugar (e.g. pop, candy): don't eat often and brush soon after.

GREEN LIGHT (Go for it!)
Ice Cream (no nuts), Potato Chips, Steamed Vegetables, Pasta Potatoes, French Fries, Soft Pretzels, Yogurt, Pudding, Jello, Soup, Sub Sandwiches, Cereal in Milk, Cheese, Eggs, Milkshakes, Caramilk Bars, Peanut Butter Cups

Healthy, Brace-Safe Snack Ideas
(It's always a good idea to chew carefully, use bite-size pieces and brush after you eat.)

  1. Thinly sliced apples, dipped in yogurt dip or creamy chocolate sauce
  2. Thin apple slices and peanut butter
  3. Cheese and crackers
  4. Cereal mix: Pack a Ziploc bag full for a great school-time or on-the-go snack. Mix your favorite low-sugar cereal with Goldfish crackers or Cheez-its and other braces-safe bites like mini marshmallows, raisins or dried cranberries
  5. Peanut Butter Tacos: Peanut butter & low-sugar jelly or honey on a soft tortilla shell, rolled up for easy eating on the go
  6. String cheese
  7. Hummus & soft pita bread sections, or soft raw veggies, like zucchini or red pepper strips that are easy to bite and chew
  8. Soft fruit: strawberries, kiwi, bananas, orange or tangerine sections
  9. Sugar-free yogurt smoothies
  10. Pizza wheels: Pizza sauce on an English muffin, topped with shredded mozzarella

There's even a cookbook devoted to brace-friendly recipes, called The Braces Cookbook by Pamela Waterman, available on Amazon. It's a great resource for snack recipes, as well as healthy meals for brace-wearing individuals who want to avoid orthodontic issues.

With a little creativity, planning and the willingness to make some adjustments in your diet, it's easy (and tasty) to eat well while being a safety-conscious orthodontic patient.