The short answer to this question is you can mostly eat your normal diet, but you will want to avoid foods that are too hard or too sticky. It would be impossible to come up with an exhaustive list of all the foods to avoid with braces, but below are a few recommendations.
Hard/crunchy foods: you want to avoid anything that is too hard because biting down too hard can cause the wires or brackets to become dislodged or break. Also, anything that requires you to bite down directly with the front teeth (such as biting into raw carrots or corn on the cob) should be avoided.
Examples: Raw carrots (You can cook the carrots or cut them into pieces first)
Hard chips (You can choose a softer or air baked chip or cracker)
Hard candies (You can choose sugar free mints or frozen yogurt instead)
Nuts (You can choose nut butters instead)
Chewy/sticky foods: you want to avoid anything too chewy or sticky since those foods are typically high in sugar and can easily become stuck to the braces causing you to have sugar sitting right up against your tooth for a period of time. These high sugar, chewy, and sticky foods greatly increase the risk of cavities while you have braces. Also, some sticky foods can get caught on the wires and cause damage to the braces.
Examples: Caramels, fruit roll ups, taffy, gum with sugar (Sugar Free Gum is okay! It is less sticky and there’s no sugar)
Other foods/drinks to avoid:
Sugary drinks (sodas, juices, sports drinks, etc.) – avoiding too much sugar is good for everyone, but sugary drinks can be especially harmful to your teeth when you have braces on. These drinks are acidic and can lead to stains around your braces if they are consumed too frequently. In moderation they can be consumed with braces on, but they certainly should not be used on a daily basis. Water and milk are the best beverages of choice with braces. For something with a different flavor consider beverages with no sugar that uses other sweeteners such as stevia.
Popcorn – I love popcorn, but this is definitely a food to avoid with braces since the hulls and kernels can get stuck in your gums and it is extremely difficult to remove them with the braces on your teeth.
Whether you have braces or not eating a well balanced diet is important for health benefits. If you have any questions about certain foods, ask us at your next visit.