Orthodontic treatment with braces can definitely bring about a lot of changes! Not only will you look a little different when you smile in the mirror, you may also find that your teeth don’t touch the same way they did before, affecting the way you chew. As your treatment continues and your teeth gradually begin to move towards their optimal positions, your mouth will continue to adapt to biting and chewing in a more natural way. Although many patients find they’re able to eat most foods within a month of getting their braces on, certain food restrictions will continue throughout your orthodontic journey.
The team at Saddle Creek Orthodontics wants to make your treatment process as comfortable as possible since we’re both in this together for the long haul! Below are some tips to make it easier for you to cope with the chewing challenges that can come with braces, as well as a list of the best foods to eat while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Keep reading to find out more!
Patience is key
Whether your braces are on for a few months or a few years, you’re investing in your oral health, your overall health, and a straighter smile. Although it might feel like forever while it’s happening, braces are a relatively brief time commitment for benefits that will last a lifetime! Patience is an important part of that process. It’s best to accept that you will have a few limitations but that they’re only temporary. In the meantime, you can make things easier by doing things like:
- Slow down! Avoid big bites or wolfing down your dinners. No matter what you are snacking on, cut the food into small pieces, and chew slowly and carefully.
- Stick to soft food immediately after your braces are put on, and for a day or two after any adjustment appointments. Develop an arsenal of soft food recipes (there are plenty that can be found on Google and YouTube). You don’t need to limit yourself to boring soups and shakes! Eventually you can add steak back onto the menu, but take it easy for a few days first.
- Leave nuts and seeds for the squirrels and birds for the time being. However good they are for you, they can get stuck in your brackets. Ditto for popcorn. Speaking of brackets, keep anything sticky or crunchy at bay – these sorts of foods can break or pop one off.
- Treat yourself to frozen yogurt, popsicles, or ice cream. The cold can provide some immediate relief if your mouth is aching from your braces being put on or adjusted. Remember, though – all things in moderation!
The first few weeks of braces tend to be the most difficult, but once your gums and mouth toughen up, and you get used to chewing and eating a little differently, you’ll find you can manage a new diet with relative ease! We’ve listed seven foods below that give you the most bang for your braces buck.
Healthy teeth, healthy body
Oral care is more important than ever while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Along with the usual dental hygiene routine of brushing and flossing 2-3 times daily, you should eat a healthy diet that’s rich and varied. We rounded up some of our favorite foods that are safe for braces and good for your teeth, too!
High in calcium and protein, plain yogurt with no added sugar is a great choice for the strength and health of your teeth. The extra boost of beneficial bacteria that comes from probiotics can also benefit your gums by crowding out the bad bacteria that cause cavities. Yogurt with fruit is a perfect breakfast or snack when your teeth are sore since it requires no chewing, but be sure to brush your teeth afterwards. Even plain yogurt has naturally-occurring sugar content.
- Chicken noodle soup
If a more perfect comfort food exists, we don’t know what it is! Not just for sick days, chicken soup is a perfect food for new braces, or for an aching mouth. Homemade soup is especially helpful, since the broth is loaded with minerals, gelatin, and collagen, all of which are necessary for strong teeth and bones. The protein and vitamins can increase your healing rate, and slurping soup gives your jaws and teeth a break from chewing. Missing carbs? Soak some bread or crackers in your soup, and you’ll get a soft consistency that will be easy for your braces to handle.
- Sweet potatoes
Looking for something a little more substantial, but still soft enough to eat when your teeth and jaws are sore? The humble sweet potato could be exactly what you’re looking for. These potatoes pack a punch of vitamin A, which is important for the health of your teeth and gums. Vitamin A helps maintain the mucous membranes and soft tissue of the gums, as well as the protein keratin, an agent that promotes the formation of tooth enamel. Savory or sweet, you can bake, fry, mash, steam, or even boil these beauties for a delicious, filling snack or side.
While beef, pork, and even chicken can sometimes be a little difficult to eat if putting pressure on your teeth causes pain, fish is a fantastic alternative. Harvard scientists have linked the omega-3 fatty acids in fish with lower rates of gum disease because they naturally dial down the kind of inflammation that occurs when bacteria irritates the gums. Fatty fish like salmon and Atlantic mackerel are good sources of vitamin D. This vitamin allows your body to absorb and use calcium effectively, which is critical for oral health since calcium protects the teeth and gums from disease. And because fish is naturally soft and flaky, you shouldn’t have any trouble eating it, even if your jaw and teeth are sore.
- Cooked fruits and veggies
Raw fruits and vegetables are generally best avoided with new braces, and you should be careful with them throughout your treatment since their crunch can sometimes be too hard on brackets and wires. However, baking or boiling them will make them soft enough to eat. Most fruits and vegetable contain lots of antioxidant vitamins, especially vitamin C, that helps to protect gums and other tissues from cell damage and bacterial infections. Leafy greens contain lots of folic acid, which promotes a healthy mouth and supports cell growth throughout your entire body. You can definitely eat these raw in salads or side dishes if you prefer. Aim to put a rainbow on your plate as often as possible to get the most out of your food.
- Incredible Edible Eggs
Eggs are often seen as a protein source, but they’re also rich in phosphorus. When combined with calcium and Vitamin D, phosphorus helps to build strong bones and teeth. Protein contributes to keeping your teeth healthy, and reducing decay. Eggs are extremely versatile. They can be eaten scrambled, boiled, or poached, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any time in between! No matter which way you cook them, they’re soft enough for even the sorest mouth.
Served in a glass on its own or in a bowl with toppings, smoothies are the perfect “food” for days when your braces have got you down. Smoothies are fun to make, and there’s an endless variety of fruits, vegetables and liquids you can combine so they’re never boring. Full of vitamins and minerals, the temperature and texture of a smoothie can help soothe oral discomfort by decreasing swelling and creating a numbing sensation in your gums and teeth. They’re also easy to take with you on the go!
Helping you pass your time in Braces in Memphis
We know that braces can be tricky from time to time, particularly where food is involved, and we hope this list will help you make good choices for your teeth and body that also happen to be delicious! There’s no need to suffer for straighter teeth – with a little shift in perception, you can view your treatment as an opportunity to make healthy changes that will become lifelong habits.
If you’re wearing braces in the Mid-South Memphis area, and have any questions or concerns about your treatment, give us a call and let Dr. Fagala offer the kind of encouragement that will set your mind at ease. Saddle Creek Orthodontics are here to help you from the day your braces are put on until the day they come off, and beyond, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a little extra TLC along the way!