Orthodontic Tips for Your First Week of Braces
While it won’t last long, you may experience mild discomfort for the first few days after getting braces. There are many ways to care for or even eliminate any soreness following orthodontic treatment, which mainly centers on what you can eat during this time. The first week after getting braces can be relatively easy or somewhat uncomfortable, depending on how you take care of yourself. It is important to go into treatment knowing the foods you can eat—and which ones you should avoid.
Eating Soft Foods for Braces
Our biggest tip for new braces patients is to exclusively consume soft foods for the first few days after treatment. This means eating food that you can effectively swallow without chewing at all. Your teeth are trying to grow accustomed to the new appliances during these first few days and may be sore, which is why limiting them to as little chewing as possible will help you adjust faster.
Best Foods for a New Braces Patient
Some examples of soft foods you should eat include smoothies, yogurt, ice cream, sorbet, or pudding. While you can also eat soup, we also recommend limiting particularly hot foods, as the heat could agitate your gums or teeth. Cold foods, on the other hand, will have a pleasant numbing effect and may help naturally ease any discomfort or swelling caused by the new treatment. As you grow more comfortable with your braces, you can incorporate solid foods. Things like pasta, mashed potatoes, eggs, and oatmeal are all great options for transitioning into eating with braces.
Foods that Protect Your Teeth
Additionally, it is important to continue eating foods that will take care of your dental health and tooth strength as you begin treatment. Some nutritious foods you can eat during the first week of braces include dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and milk since they are all high in calcium. One of the few fruits that may be viable to eat during your first week with braces is pears (just make sure they’re extra soft), which can neutralize malic and citric acids in your mouth. Additionally, while not a food, be sure to drink plenty of water—most tap water in the US contains fluoride, which combats cavities and promotes healthy teeth. If anything, these foods will improve your overall health and help you get the most out of your orthodontic services.
How to Eat with Braces
Is there a specific way to eat when you have braces? Some tips and tricks to keep your mouth as comfortable as possible with their new brackets. First of all, we recommend applying orthodontic wax to any area where your braces may be rubbing against your cheeks or lips, which may otherwise limit your ability to chew properly. Additionally, as you transition into eating normally with your braces, always cut things up into small pieces rather than taking big bites out of large food items (i.e. apples, sandwiches). This is especially important if you are eating a meal that contains anything somewhat chewy.
Orthodontist-Approved Foods for the Entirety of Treatment
While it is a great practice to incorporate foods like dairy, oatmeal, and smoothies into your everyday diet for their universal nutritional value, we understand that they may be less likely to grace your plate once more exciting options are available. Luckily, the majority of foods are or can be made braces-friendly. For breakfast, prioritize things that will be soft and easy to cut into small bites, such as pancakes, scrambled eggs, yogurt topped with fruit and honey, or muffins (make them high-protein and braces-friendly by adding nut butter instead of whole nuts). For lunch and dinner, try spaghetti and meatballs, soft-shell tacos with shredded chicken and rice, salads with soft leafy greens, and whitefish. These foods will be safe for chewing with braces and are highly nutritious.
Transitioning to Eating After the First Week
Pro tip: it is probably best not to jump straight into your favorite foods right after your first week with braces. We recommend that every patient create meals that combine both a soft food (i.e. pudding, yogurt, a smoothie) alongside your normal meal, in case the regular food causes discomfort and you have to substitute in the smoothie. Taking care of these issues in advance may help avoid an additional visit to your orthodontist.
How to Best Take Care of Your Braces After you Eat
Did you know that, when it comes to braces, what you do after you eat is almost as important as the food itself? Because it is much easier for food to get stuck in your teeth when wearing braces, it can cause plaque buildup. This is why you must know how to establish a hygiene regimen to implement every time you eat a meal.
Hygiene and Orthodontics
After you enjoy a meal with braces, wait at least thirty minutes for your saliva to wash away debris and acids produced by your food. After this, you can rinse your mouth with water to dislodge food stuck in your braces and then brush your teeth as you normally would. Because having braces can make it difficult to maintain the same level of dental hygiene, we recommend aiming to brush three times a day.
What Foods to Avoid with Braces
Finally, as you might have guessed, there are some foods that we recommend you avoid at all costs while you have braces. This includes all hard candy (i.e. Werther’s caramels, Jolly Ranchers), sticky/chewy snacks (i.e. Laffy Taffy, jelly beans), nuts, popcorn, hard pretzels, crunchy fruits and vegetables, bagels/hard bread, and ice. Any of these can be very damaging to your braces and might result in a trip to the orthodontist or dentist’s office.
Overall, eating with braces does not have to be overwhelming or complicated. Do your best to avoid exceptionally tough, chewy, or sticky foods, and use your best judgment to take care of yourself during this period. And if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your orthodontist!