Holiday Foods to Avoid if You Wear Braces

woman in red scarf smiling with braces

Alpharetta, GA – The holidays are upon us, and that means a host of tempting foods are everywhere. And those foods don’t just wreak havoc on our waistlines – they can be damaging for orthodontic patients who wear braces, too.

“While braces technology has advanced greatly over the years, creating sleeker and better functioning bracket systems, patients still have a list of foods they should avoid,” says Dr. Nima, an experienced orthodontist in Alpharetta and Johns Creek. “Candy canes and peanut brittle may be all over the stores, but they, and other holiday foods, can cause serious damage to your braces and set back your orthodontic treatment.”

Hard and sticky foods should be avoided. Hard foods can damage your bracket and wires, meaning your braces won’t effectively move your teeth until they’ve been repaired. Sticky foods can pull on the brackets and wires, and they can also make your braces harder to clean. And if you damage your braces over the holidays, it might be hard to get your braces fixed right away as your orthodontist and his or her staff will be enjoying the holidays as well.

So, what foods should you avoid? Dr. Nima suggests patients avoid:

  • Candy canes
  • Peanut brittle
  • Pecan pie
  • Nuts
  • Gingerbread cookies or other crispy or harder-to-bite cookies
  • Taffy
  • Caramel apples
  • Popcorn
  • Raw vegetables, such as carrots or other hard-to-bite veggies

But there are still plenty of foods you can enjoy. Pumpkin pie, puddings, custards, hot cocoa, soft chocolates, soft cookies, and other soft candies are all okay.

“It is important, though, to remember to snack on these things in moderation,” says Dr. Nima. “Sweets of any kind aren’t great for your teeth. The sugar that gets left behind can mingle with the bacteria in the mouth to create acid that attacks the teeth and can lead to tooth decay.”

Always remember to brush and floss after eating, even if it is just a snack. Braces create lots of nooks and crannies for food particles to hide in. If you can’t brush right away, drink plenty of water to help wash the food away. Be sure you take the extra time to thoroughly brush around all of the brackets and underneath the wires, and use a floss threader if needed when flossing.