May is National Barbecue Month, and while we all love enjoying food right off the grill, for patients with braces, barbecued foods can often pose a risk to orthodontic work. We’ve compiled our top tips and recipes to help you enjoy the barbecue season—without damaging your braces!

Barbecued Foods to Avoid

From corn on the cob, to short ribs, to chicken, and more, many barbecue dishes should be avoided entirely to minimize their risk to braces. Because bones in meat can dislodge brackets or bend wires, options like chicken wings or ribs should be avoided. And while corn on the cob is a delicious staple at many barbecues, pulling corn off the cob with your teeth threatens braces. Additionally, stringy meats, like pulled pork, can easily get caught in wires and brackets, so avoid them if possible.

Though there are several barbecue guidelines that patients with braces should follow, you can still enjoy freshly grilled meat and corn. As long as you remove meat from the bone or take corn off the cob, you can still eat both of these staples.

Barbecued Foods to Enjoy

There are plenty of barbecue classics that patients with braces can enjoy—without any modifications! For example, sides like potato salad, fruit salad, beans, and mac-and-cheese all are safe, soft foods for braces. Here are some additional recipes to help you create the perfect, braces-friendly barbecue.

Beef Brisket– This classic is packed with flavor—it’s sure to impress as a delicious main course. Remember, tomato sauce and barbecue sauce have the potential to stain teeth and braces, so if you’re wearing clear braces, don’t forget to clean your teeth after eating to avoid discoloration.

Shrimp Kabobs– If you’re looking for a protein-packed side, grilled shrimp may be perfect for you. Be careful with kabobs, however. Eating shrimp off the kabob could harm braces, so take food off your skewer before enjoying.

Grilled Pineapple– Looking for a grilled dessert? Try grilled fruit! Although this dish contains only natural sugars, all sugar can lead to tooth decay. Because braces can make regular dental care more difficult, be sure to clean teeth thoroughly after eating to remove lingering food particles and bacteria.