Getting braces is often the first step to correcting your bite, smile and overall dental wellness. With getting braces can come sore teeth, food limitations and a few other emotional and social feelings. Yet, fear not according to some recent statistics nearly 4 million people per year get braces and about 25-53% of people need some sort of orthodontic treatment in their lifetime.
Needless to say, if having braces makes you feel any sort of negative emotions, please note you are not alone. Plus, the straight teeth and fixed bites for years to come are worth it! Trust me, I get it I had braces for three years in my teens. I broke brackets and had sore teeth, but I can assure you whether you, your child or someone you care for has braces the outcome is worth the process.
And part of that process is potentially having sore teeth and needing to avoid certain foods. During this time, soft foods may be the most comforting and pain-relieving choice. So, as a fellow braces wearer and a registered dietitian with a focus on dental health, here are a variety of soft options plus sample meal plans and recipes for soft foods to eat for braces.
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What To Eat The First Week
The first few days or week of getting braces you may be advised or simply want to eat soft foods because of the way you feel. During this time, as your mouth adjusts to this new hardware your teeth may feel sensitive and your mouth may feel sore and ache a bit too.
Since your teeth are just starting to get realigned they may move a bit and this is what likely is causing soreness and sensitivity. To learn more about teeth sensitivity and braces of course consult with your dental provider, in the meantime you check out this article too!
Now, of course, eating soft foods for the first few days doesn’t have to be painful too. There are plenty of yummy soft food options, provided below are some healthy, yet tasty soft food ideas!
First Few Days Soft Food List
Since your teeth may be sensitive, try consuming these foods lukewarm or near room temperature.
- cheesy scrambled eggs with softened sauteed veggies mixed in
- chocolate peanut butter banana nice cream
- spinach, kefir and fruit smoothie
- peanut butter strawberry smoothie bowl
- broccoli and cheese soup
- bone broth
- pot roast
- tofu chocolate pudding
- greek yogurt with fruit and honey
- vegetable soup
- chicken noodle soup
- mashed potatoes
- canned tuna fish with mayonnaise
First Few Days Foods To Avoid
During these first few days with braces, you’ll likely want to try to avoid foods that will contribute to your teeth feeling sore and sensitive. Typically these are foods that are spicy, hard, chewy, cold and/or acidic. Such as:
- citrus fruits
- chicken wings
- focaccia bread
- ice cream
- ice cream bar
- hot sauce
- raw celery
- raw carrots
What To Eat With Braces After The First Week
Woohoo, you or someone you care for has made it past the first week with braces. Now, it’s time to settle in and enjoy the duration of correcting that alignment and improving oral health. Yup, there will be some foods to avoid with braces, yet there are so many foods to enjoy as well. Provided are examples of foods, segmented down by food groups that are okay to have with braces. Braces-friendly snacks, meals and sample meal plans further on down this post.
Fruit is a great way to get nutrients like vitamin C and fiber that your mouth and body need to support well-being (for more info on nutrients for mouth health, check out this blog post “6 vitamins for strong teeth“.
Most fruits are okay to have, just make sure that if you are consuming raw hard fruits, cut them down into small, easy-to-chew, bite-sized pieces. Having fruits blended, canned, mashed, cubed and cooked are all great ways to soften them up and make them easier to eat with braces. Here’s a list of some braces happy fruits:
- pineapple (crushed, or cut into small bite-size pieces)
- apples (softened or cut into small bite-size pieces)
- pears (softened or cut into small bite-sized pieces)
Just like fruits, vegetables are another food group that are packed with all sorts of vitamins and minerals your body just loves. And same as fruits, veggies are great blended, cooked, cubed, microwaved or mashed to make them easier to chew for braces. Plus, just like fruit, if you are planning on having hard veggies raw, just make sure to finely chop them into easier-to-chew bite-size pieces. Below is a list of some braces-okay veggies:
- mashed sweet potatoes
- mashed yellow or yukon potatoes
- steamed, baked or boiled peas
- green beans (cut into small bite-sized pieces)
- shredded lettuce
- shredded spinach
- shredded kale
- carrots (baked, steamed, boiled, mashed, raw cut into small bite-sized pieces)
- broccoli (same prep suggestions as carrots)
- celery (same prep suggestions as carrots)
Grains can really round out a dish and are yet again, another major food group with major nutrients the body needs. Just like with fruits and veggies, if the grain is hard (like some bread) try cutting it into small, bite-sized pieces. Here are some grains to enjoy after getting braces:
- soft bagels without seeds
- muffins without nuts or seeds
- soft bread without nuts or seeds
Protein does so much for the body. It’s a macronutrient vital to good health and just maintaining specific bodily functions. Luckily, aside from a few hard-to-chew meats, there’s a plethora of proteins that are on the braces, check out some examples listed below:
- Greek yogurt
- cottage cheese
- canned fish
- canned chicken
- chicken salad
- egg salad
- protein shake
- protein powder
- finely chopped or stewed steak
- cold cuts
- protein (bean-based) pasta
- nut butter
and sometimes vitamin D, two nutrients pivotal for making and maintaining strong teeth. Try some of these dairy options below:
- Greek yogurt
- sour cream
- cream cheese
- frozen yogurt
- ice cream
As you may have inferred most of the foods listed up until now, in this section, are healthier foods packed with nutrients that are crucial for your oral and overall health. However, as a registered dietitian I know that sometimes candy and desserts are just as nourishing to your happiness and whole self as the typical more nutrient-dense foods are. So, here are some yummy, full-of taste, salty and/or sweet foods that can be easily eaten with braces:
- ice cream
- fudge (softened or cut into small bite-sized pieces)
- peanut butter cups
- chocolate bar (without nuts, softened or cut into small bite-sized pieces)
- pie filling
- pie with a soft crust and/or topped with crumbles
- brownies without nuts
- soft serve ice cream
- cupcakes without nuts
- cake without nuts
- soft crackers
- soft cookies
- cookie dough
- hot chocolate
What To Drink With Braces
There are really not many drinks that are off-limits when it comes to what to drink with braces. If your teeth are sensitive try to avoid really hot or really cold drinks (same for foods) and stick with lukewarm beverages.
Additionally, whether you have braces or not, some drinks can be really acidic and if consumed regularly over time could wear down enamel and contribute to developing cavities. To learn more about acidic drinks and enamel, please refer to Dental Meal Plan’s other article “Is Lemon Water Bad For Teeth?“.
So, here is a list of beverages that are not too acidic and can be happily drank while sporting that teeth-straightening hardware:
- protein shake
- drinkable yogurt
- bone broth
- cold or lukewarm sipping soups
- sparkling water
- soda water
- hot chocolate
- frozen hot chocolate
- whipped cream
- chocolate sauce
- caramel sauce
Sample Meals and Snacks With Braces
Alrighty, now that you’ve seen a fairly comprehensive list of braces-approved foods by food groups, here are some sample meals and snacks. Each example is carefully crafted to provide a balance of two to three of the food groups per meal or snack.
- canned tuna cheese melt sandwich on crustless, seedless bread. Cut into bite-sized pieces and served with a side of crushed canned pineapple topped with shredded coconut flakes and some whipped cream
- crock pot shredded chicken with gravy or sauce served with sides of mashed potatoes and softened, steamed carrots and peas
- protein, bean-based pasta mac and cheese with cooked, softened chopped spinach, tomatoes and basil mixed in.
- plain Greek yogurt with chopped berries and a drizzle of honey
- small, bite-sized bell peppers with hummus
- half a nut butter and jelly sandwich on soft, whole wheat bread
Sample Meal Plan
- Breakfast: chocolate cauliflower protein shake
- Mid-morning Snack: oat energy balls
- Lunch: chicken salad sandwich on soft, seedless/nutless bread with one or two clementines
- Mid-afternoon Snack: edamame hummus with soft, bite-sized vegetables
- Dinner: macaroni and cheese with vegetables mixed in
- Evening Snack: chocolate protein mug cake
To receive a PDF of this sample meal plan along with a few recipes, subscribe here, and get it delivered right to your email inbox!
Foods To Avoid With Braces
Hopefully, by now you feel empowered that there are a variety of healthy to satisfying food options to eat or drink while you or someone you care for has braces. The list of what to eat is long, and luckily the list of what to avoid is far shorter. Provided below are some foods to avoid while those teeth are getting straightened out:
- tough, chewy meats like beef jerky or steak
- hard cookies
- hard candies like mints or jaw-breakers
- chewy candies like gummy bears or taffy
- hard crackers
- hard bread
- chewing gum
- hard pretzels
- caramel candies
- hard pizza crust
- hard pretzels
- whole, crunchy veggies like corn on the cob, celery or cucumber sticks
I know having to cut out any foods that you like can feel limiting, but keep in mind the braces will be on for just a short time and the outcome of a happy, confident straight smile will be worth it for years to come!
Food Prep Tips and Suggested Equipment
Just like without braces, sometimes prepping some food before the grind of the workweek begins makes it easier to whip up a meal or grab a snack mid-week. Tack on having or caring for someone with braces and prepping some food while having some specific kitchen equipment on hand can make this time of orthodontic treatment that much more of a breeze.
Here are some food prep tips along with suggested equipment. Some foods can be eaten with braces, yet they don’t come right from the grocery store braces-friendly to eat. So, here are some food and prep suggestions to make eating these foods much better for the braces:
Food Prep Tips
- finely chop raw vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces. Veggies such as cucumbers, celery, peppers, and carrots
- cut up fresh fruit into small, bite-sized pieces. Fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, apples, and pears
- make-ahead pasta salad with softened veggies for a quick grab-and-go during the week. Veggies can include tomatoes, spinach and onions
- make-ahead peanut butter chocolate banana nice cream and throw in the freezer for a sweet grab and go snack during the week
- hard boil some eggs for a quick grab-and-go throughout the week
- cook some rice or quinoa to easily add to meals or snacks while cooking later on in the week
Suggested Cooking Equipment
- slow cooker
- food storage containers
- potato masher
- immersion blender
- food processor
Overall, I strive to create informative articles that help you or someone you care for support their oral health as well as general well-being. As stated earlier, I too had braces, it was such a short and insignificant period that I barely remember feeling held back in social food settings when it came to what I could eat. The improved bite, aligned teeth and confidence I had in my smile far outweighed any uncomfortableness of wearing braces.
Hopefully, you’ve found this article informative and have some useful food and orthodontic treatment tips, takeaways or knowledge you can use to make eating while having braces a more enjoyable, approachable and fun time! Hey, maybe even after reading this article, that time of wearing braces can be more positive and memorable as well! Of course, any questions about your braces, please consult your orthodontic provider.