hard foods for braces and strong teeth

Hard Foods For Braces and Strong Teeth

See ways you can enjoy certain hard foods with braces, plus learn how they can be are beneficial for your mouth, jaw and overall health.

Hard foods, you may have heard to avoid them or been encouraged to eat them depending on your teeth and dental situation. And it’s true healthy these can support developing a strong jaw and teeth, but they can also break teeth or braces brackets.

In my time working with people on nutrition to support their specific dental needs I’ve had all sorts of talks and guided what hard foods to avoid to help their teeth in time of healing or straightening or what hard foods to include to help their teeth, jaw and overall health.

what's the deal with hard foods for braces or strong teeth?

So, whether you are here wondering what hard foods you can have and avoid with braces or curious to know how incorporating them into your diet can help improve your jaw and overall health, then welcome you have landed on the right article! In this post, I will deep dive into both topics. Without further ado scroll on to learn more. Enjoy!

Hard Foods and Braces

If you just got braces you may have been advised to steer clear of hard and sticky foods. And for good reason, hard and sticky foods can cause the braces brackets to crack and may lead to getting food stuck in between your teeth that’s difficult to get out. This could even lead to potentially developing cavities.

Now, if having to avoid hard and sticky foods while wearing braces feels like a total bummer, please know you are not alone. If there are some hard foods that you love and are not looking forward to omitting from your diet, there may be ways to soften the food. Plus, keep in mind the end result, once those braces are off and your teeth are straightened you’ll have a nice smile and it could even make chewing down on hard foods that much easier and satisfying.

Alrighty, with all this being understood, check out the next sections to see what foods to avoid and how to soften some hard foods.

Hard Foods To Avoid

  • hard candies such as lollipops, jaw breakers, blow pops,
  • ice chips
  • nuts such as whole almonds, macadamias, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios
  • seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • hard taco shells
  • hard fruit such as pears, apples, 
  • hard vegetables such as carrots, celery, corn on the cob
  • crusty hard bread such as baguettes and pizza crust
  • hard crackers
  • hard pretzels
  • hard cookies
  • hard chips
  • popcorn
  • hard, crunchy granola
  • hard, dried breakfast cereal
  • hard cookies

Sticky Foods To Avoid

  • caramel
  • toffee
  • gum
  • gummy candy
  • taffy
  • licorcie 
rigid and sticky foods list in pictures

How To Soften Hard Foods For Braces

If some of the hard foods listed above are items you love to eat, there may be a way to soften the food, so you can still enjoy it with braces. When it comes to shared vegetables such as carrots, celery and corn on the cob they can all be softened in various ways. 

  • Carrots can be steamed until softened or thrown into a soup, casserole or slow cooker dish where they will soften up as well.
  • Hard, dried breakfast cereal can be softened by pouring milk into it and letting the cereal sit in the milk until the cereal has softened or become mushy.
  • Nuts and seeds can be ground into nut or seed butters, such as almond butter or pumpkin butter. You can buy these premade at the grocery store.
  • Hard chips like tortilla chips can be softened by making microwaveable nachos and cooking until the food layered on top of the tortilla chips has caused the chips to soften.

I know sometimes the softened version of your favorite hard foods just can’t replace the food in its initial format, hopefully, you feel a bit more content knowing there are alternative ways of eating them while still keeping your braces and wires intact! For even more details on what foods you can enjoy with braces, please check out my other blog post “15 Healthy, Tasty Snacks to Eat With Braces“.

Hard Foods For Teeth and Jaw Strength

With all the premade nutrition drinks, smoothies and juices out there these days, it can make grabbing a nourishing liquid a more convenient option than going for a crunchy salad or nuts and fruit snack. While having these options are great as it provides an easy source of quick nutrition and energy, choosing these liquid options over hard foods too often means using your mouth less to chew.

And guess what, biting down has a whole host of benefits for our dental and overall well-being. From cleaning your mouth to strengthening your jaw to increasing fullness chewing hard foods can support good health, uncover how certain aspects of health are impacted below.

How Hard Foods Can Clean Your Teeth

Hard foods can surely crack teeth, depending on your dental health status which can be more viable or less likely, of course maintaining routine dentist visits can help to check on the health of your mouth.

tough foods help reduce bad bacteria, increase saliva and neutralize balance pH

Contrary to the cracked tooth potential from hard foods, healthy hard and crunchy foods can do wonders for your oral wellness. First off, hard foods take more time to chew than soft or liquid foods. With more chewing comes more saliva production. This is a good thing because saliva helps to maintain proper pH in your mouth, reducing the cavity-causing acidic pH and getting rid of bad bacteria.

On top of that, hard foods actually can help to clean your teeth by removing plaque, tartar and harmful bacteria. Less bad bacteria, less cavity-causing acids and less plaque and tarter are all things that improve teeth and gum health! To learn more about how hard foods support your mouth, refer to the links in the additional sources section.

How Hard Foods Can Help Strengthen Your Jaw

Just like how cardio and strength training supports skeletal and bone health and density, chewing hard and crunchy foods supports jaw strength. Hard, crunchy foods require more force to bite down on along with more chewing. According to an article on jaw strength from Dentistry Today, bones are constantly restructured in response to applied force. So, chewing down hard and taking more bites increases the strength of your jaw by supporting strong bone formation.

Furthermore, numerous studies done on both humans and animals studies have found that chewing on hard, crunchy foods can also impact the actual shape of the jaw. In fact, according to one study conducted at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, the size and strength of the jaw can be increased, especially during the developmental years, by regular consumption of hard, crunchy foods.

So hard foods can help support mouth health and jaw strength, sounds like a win-win for hard foods, right? Well, they also can support general well-being too. More on that in the next section.

How Eating Hard Foods Can Help Improve Your Overall Health

Did you know, your mouth is the start of your gastrointestinal tract? Many healthcare professionals feel that good health starts in your gut, which starts in your mouth. So it makes sense that how you get can impact your overall health.

hard foods can help our health

More chewing slows down eating which allows your mind and body to be more in tune with hunger and fullness queues. This can help lessen overconsumption and support weight maintenance. Additionally, slower eating and more chewing allow the gastrointestinal tract, especially the stomach, more time to break down, digest and absorb food. Many people struggle with digestion issues, and according to a 2019 study in the journal Nutrients allowing the body more time to digest and absorb food may lessen those issues!

Healthy, Hard Foods List

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Radishes
  • Nuts and Seeds like almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Whole grain crunchy bread 
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Sugarless gum
  • Tough, chewing meats like steak and venison

Final Thoughts

Hard foods have a whole host of benefits for dental and general well-being. If you are a lover of certain hard foods it can be limiting to know you may have to avoid them during orthodontic aka braces treatment. Yet, there are some ways you can soften certain hard foods, so you can still enjoy them in a modified way during your time with braces. If you were wondering what hard foods to avoid while having braces or wanted to know more about the benefits of hard foods, I hope you found this information helpful.

As always, a registered dietitian specializing in dental health I am here to support your dental nutrition needs. From pre-surgery nutrition to post-surgery soft food diet to general nutrition for maintaining oral health I am here to support your dental nutrition needs. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about how we may be able to work together, please head on over to my contact page and reach out.

Cheers to All Things Hard Foods

hard foods for braces and strong teeth

Additional Resources:

Hard Foods For Braces and Strong Teeth

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