Foods To Avoid With Braces

One thing many people want to know is “what foods can I not eat with braces.” 

First of all, let’s talk about why there are restrictions with braces.  The reason we have a no eat/be careful list is that braces are held onto the teeth with a small piece of glue.  If you knock into the braces with a hard or crunchy or sticky food, the brace will come off. And then you’ll have to come back to the office and we have to go through the process of putting it back on which is 1. More work, 2. More appointments, and 3. Makes your braces take longer! No one likes any of those things!

I may be in the minority of orthodontists, but I don’t like to give long lists of foods that are “ok” or “not ok”.  If we list a bunch of foods, sometimes people think “Oh! A similar food isn’t specifically listed – it must be ok!” And that’s not true. Eating with braces is more about HOW you eat and understanding why than WHAT you eat – we’ll talk about that in the second category. Very few foods are on the absolute no no list. 

Do Not Eat

Absolutely do not eat:

  • Ice
  • Very hard sticky candy (Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, Blow pops)
  • Big pieces of sugary gum

The most important thing to understand is HOW you eat with braces on.  The way to do it is CAREFULLY.  You don’t want to bite into hard foods with your front teeth. The foods in the following category should be cut or torn or broken into small pieces and chewed on your back teeth. If the piece of food is small, it will be between your teeth and not anywhere near your braces.  If you bite into these foods with your front teeth, you might end up with several of the braces broken. And if you have a big mouthful of food, even if it isn’t too hard, your teeth crash around and can knock into the braces, braking one off.

No biting into :

(These foods should be CUT or TORN into small pieces and chewed on your back teeth)

  • Apples
  • Sandwiches on hard rolls
  • Hard Pizza crust
  • Bagel
  • Tortilla/hard chips
  • Hard taco shells
  • Ribs/Chicken legs
  • Carrots
  • Corn on the cob

You Can Eat

These foods CAN be eaten, you’ll just need to be more careful in how you do so.

The next list is foods people always ask specifically about. If you can actually eat the following foods one piece at a time, they are ok to eat with braces. But if you’re like most people and eat popcorn or nuts one whole handful at a time, the pieces will crash around your mouth and likely knock into the braces braking one and therefore not a good idea.

Foods to be eaten with EXTRA CAUTION :

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Small hard candies (M&Ms)
  • Small sugar-free gum (like Trident) 

Sugar free gum is an interesting item. Big sugary pieces of gum are a definitely no no food. However, most people can chew small soft sugar free pieces with braces on. Some people because of HOW they chew move the gum around their mouths in ways that get it all tangled in the wires. So if you’re going to try to chew gum with braces, make sure it’s small and sugar free and chew carefully to make sure you’re not a get-tangled-up type of chewer.

Orthodontics for Teens

If you have questions about food, the basic rule is “cut or tear or break and chew small pieces carefully”. And if you follow those rules, most foods are possible with braces and the restrictions aren’t as bad as people fear they will be.

Any further or more specific questions you have, please bring them to your free consultation appointment or next adjustment appointment for us to review more fully. Give us a call at (707) 938 – 5255 to make an appointment or fill out an appointment request form at and someone from our team will get back to you the next day that we’re in the office. 

We look forward to talking with you soon!