Life With Braces

Eating With Braces

Temporarily giving up some of the foods you love is a sacrifice, but we are confident it will be worth it once you see your smile at the end of treatment! Remember that following instructions makes it more likely that you will complete treatment within the estimated time frame which means you’ll be back to enjoying some of the treats you love soon. Be sure to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.

Foods To Avoid With Braces

Avoid or be very careful of hard foods, sticky foods and foods high in sugar content.


Hard Foods

Hard foods may do damage by bending the wires, loosening the cement under the bands, or breaking the little brackets and tubes that are attached to the bands. Some of the foods of these types are listed below, along with ways they may be eaten, if practical.

  • Carrots or celery sticks should be grated, cooked or cut very thin
  • Apples or other fruits with tough peels should be peeled and cut into wedges
  • French bread or hard rolls should be cut into small pieces
  • Corn on the cob requires that the kernels be cut off the cob
  • Avoid eating popcorn
  • Avoid chewing ice cubes or bones
  • Avoid chewing on pencils or pens
  • Avoid hard candy (peppermints, jolly ranchers, suckers, etc.)
  • Avoid eating nuts

Sticky Foods

Sticky foods damage appliances by bending wires and pulling the cement seal loose. PLEASE DO NOT EAT:

  • Taffy or licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Peanut brittle
  • Caramels
  • Gum

Foods High In Sugar

Foods high in sugar content should be avoided between meals as these foods increase your risk of developing white spots around the brackets (start of cavities than leave a permanent scar on the tooth). Therefore, it is recommended that you limit your consumption of:

  • Sodas (diet sodas are better because they have no sugar, but the acidity can still damage your teeth if consumed too frequently)
  • Juice
  • Sports drinks
  • Sweet tea

Foods You Can Eat With Braces

  • Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
  • Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
  • Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
  • Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
  • Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
  • Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
  • Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Candy You Can Eat With Braces

  • Whatchamacallit
  • Reese’s Cups (without peanuts)
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Nestlé’s Chocolate Bar
  • Nestlé’s Alpine White
  • Smooth and Melties
  • Three Musketeers
  • Cadbury Eggs
  • 5th Avenue Bar
  • Kit Kat Bar
  • M & M’s (plain)
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
  • Sno-Caps
  • Raisinettes
  • S’mores
  • Pixy Stix
  • Ande’s
  • Zero

Cleaning Your Teeth With Braces

One of the common concerns about orthodontics is that braces might cause decay. Actually, the parts of the teeth that are covered by our orthodontic bands and brackets are protected from decay as long as the cement under them is holding properly. However, orthodontic appliances do make certain places on your teeth harder to clean. The brackets, tubes and wires that stick out away from your teeth tend to make little traps that may cause problems; therefore, proper tooth brushing is especially important to your treatment.


The following instructions will explain when and how to clean your teeth properly during your orthodontic treatment.


When: You will need to brush your teeth with a toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste three times a day – once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once just before going to bed. A folding or travel toothbrush may be helpful when you are away from home.


How: Always begin at the same area in the mouth to help establish a pattern. Work your way around all the teeth, making sure to brush every surface of every tooth.


First, brush the bands, brackets, and wires by placing your toothbrush over the bands at an angle and force the bristles between the brackets and under the wire.


Then vibrate the brush back and forth to dislodge all the food particles between the teeth and braces. Do this from the top and bottom of the braces for both the upper and lower teeth.


Next, brush the teeth as if there were no bands on the teeth by turning the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gum. It is important to maintain healthy gums while you are wearing braces. Inflamed and bleeding gums are not only uncomfortable and unsightly, but they also complicate orthodontic treatment and may necessitate discontinuing treatment completely.


Then brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth, using a back and forth movement. Be sure to brush the front and the back of the teeth.


Make sure to attend your regular dentist visits for a thorough exam and cleaning while you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Most people should see their general dentist at 6-month intervals for a thorough dental exam, professional dental cleaning, radiographs (x-rays) as indicated, and any necessary fillings.

Soreness Caused From Braces And Appliances

Typically, soreness of the teeth begins about 4 hours after the initial placement of braces. Peak discomfort occurs within 24 to 48 hours and then begins to subside. You may experience mild discomfort after each reactivation appointment, but the soreness is usually not as severe as after the initial placement. Soreness caused by orthodontic treatment is best handled with over-the-counter pain medicine such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen). Any gum discomfort can be relieved by rinsing with 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. The cheeks, lips and tongue may become irritated for the first couple weeks as you get used to your appliances. During this time, placing a small ball of wax on those areas will help.

Loose Teeth

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don’t worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.

Loose Wires And Bands

The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.


You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.

Take Care Of Your Appliances

Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by Dr. Courtney.

Playing Sports With Braces

You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it’s recommended that you wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let Dr. Courtney know if you need help finding the right mouth guard for the best protection.


In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and appliance for damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliance damage, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by applying wax or rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Monthly visits to Dr. Courtney, your orthodontist, do not eliminate the need for you to see your primary dentist.


Please make sure to attend your regular dentist visits for a thorough exam and cleaning while you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Most people should see their general dentist at 6-month intervals for a thorough dental exam, professional dental cleaning, radiographs (x-rays) as indicated, and any necessary fillings. Some patients may need to see their dentist more frequently.


If you need help selecting a primary dental care provider, we are happy to provide recommendations.

Southern Smiles is the premier choice for orthodontics in Roanoke Rapids, NC. Call (252) 365-4234 to take the first step to the smile you always wanted!

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