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An Orthodontist’s Guide To Braces-Friendly Holiday Foods

If you asked a handful of people what their favorite parts of the holidays are, chances are “the food” would land somewhere on their list. For birthdays, there’s cake. For Thanksgiving, there’s turkey. We associate gatherings, traditions, and special occasions with special foods and dishes.

Many of us love to indulge in seasonal flavors that we only enjoy during the holiday season. Everywhere you look, there’s a pumpkin spice latte or a peppermint hot chocolate in someone’s hand during fall and winter. The holidays generally make people excited and in the mood to eat, drink, and be merry.

An Orthodontist’s Guide To Braces-Friendly Holiday Foods
(Tim Douglas / pexels)

You might feel bummed that you have to opt out of enjoying your mom’s homemade Rice Krispies or your favorite caramels this year because of your braces. And Santa won’t be bringing those gummy candies that usually appear in your stocking. But don’t worry, it’s only temporary. While it’s best to avoid the sticky treats, there are still plenty of delicious holiday foods and desserts you can indulge in during your celebrations. Here’s a list of some to look forward to:

Holiday Foods You Can Eat With Braces

● Tender pieces of turkey, brisket, roast beef, or pot roast
● Ham or chicken (off the bone)
● Mashed potatoes
● Cooked veggies
● Casseroles
● Candied yams
● Cranberry sauce
● Corn (off the cob)
● Soups
● Salads
● Pasta
● Mac and cheese
● Soft rolls
● Cooked lentils
● Creamed corn
● Cornbread
● Soft baked goods

Holiday Desserts You Can Eat With Braces

● Pumpkin pie
● Cream-based or fruit pies
● Brownies (without nuts)
● Custard or pudding
● Ice cream
● Doughnuts

What If The Food Isn’t On The Approved List?

If you come across a food or treat you’re unsure about, ask yourself two questions:

1. Is it hard?
2. Does it require a lot of chewing or biting into?

If the answer is no to both, it’s likely fine. You can always consult orthodontics websites for answers as well. If the answer is yes, you should avoid it. Eating it will catch on your braces and could knock a wire or bracket loose.

We know you don’t want to miss out on some of your favorite holiday treats, but you probably don’t want an emergency trip to your orthodontist’s office on Christmas Eve. If you have to wait for a fix until after the holidays, it can set your treatment back–an even bigger issue if you were planning to get them off before a significant event.

Eating the chestnuts roasted on the open fire is not worth it. But don’t worry, you can still have some turkey and stand under the mistletoe. Your holiday celebrations can still be magical. They can be delicious, too, just not the type of delicious that will stick to or damage your braces.

Holiday Foods And Treats You Should Avoid With Braces

● Hard foods like nuts or pizza crusts
● Popcorn
● Pecan pie
● Raw or crunchy vegetables
● Candy apples or caramel apples
● Hard cookies such as gingerbread or biscotti
● Candy canes or other sticky candy
● Caramel or toffee
● Chewy foods like beef jerky, gummy candies, fruit snacks, or gum

Also, avoid anything you have to bite into whole, such as an apple, carrot, corn on the cob, or meat on a bone.

Drinks To Avoid With Braces

This list might already be crushing your holiday dreams by mentioning some foods and treats you should avoid. But you really should stay away from some specific drinks as well:

● Fizzy or carbonated drinks
● Fruit juice
● Energy drinks
● Sports drinks

Avoid these beverages because they can damage your braces’ metal brackets or wires. They may also cause tooth discoloration and erosion, which will be noticeable once you remove your braces. You don’t want it to look like you still have braces on because of the little squares on your teeth that are now a different color than the rest, do you?

Drinks You Can Consume With Braces

● Still water
● Milk
● Apple cider
● Eggnog
● Hot chocolate
● Smoothies
● Drinks low in sugar

Drinking and eating foods low in sugar during your braces journey is smart. Brushing and flossing are much more complex tasks with your braces, meaning it’s easier to miss spots, and the sugar will erode your teeth. A balanced and low-sugar diet will help to minimize plaque buildup on your teeth and braces.

Aftercare is also essential. When you know you’ll be eating more treats than usual, don’t forget give your teeth extra care afterward with diligent brushing, flossing, and rinsing.

After Braces, How Long Do I Have To Wait To Indulge In My Favorite Foods Again?

After removing your braces, your teeth may be slightly tender. You should stick to the soft foods for at least a week or until the discomfort subsides. Waiting will all be worth it when you take that first crunchy, sticky bite of Rice Krispy treat (or whichever delicious treat is your favorite), enjoying it to the fullest.

When eating at your holiday gatherings, use your best judgment on which foods to eat and which ones to avoid for the sake of your teeth and braces. Hopefully, your braces will be off by next Christmas so that you can indulge in all the sticky, hard, and chewy candies to your heart’s content. But for now, monitor what you eat, drink, and snack on. Your newly straightened, healthy grin will be worth all the little sacrifices you made.

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