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Can You Eat Popcorn with Braces? 10 Foods to Avoid

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A young woman sitting in a kitchen and smiling with braces as she holds up a glass of water

Braces are a traditional way to treat crooked or misaligned teeth. But while they provide many benefits, they do have a downside—they can restrict what foods you can safely eat without causing damage to your teeth or braces. But what exactly are the foods you should avoid?

When you have braces, it’s best to avoid foods like:

  • Popcorn
  • Crunchy fruits & vegetables
  • Sugary beverages & snacks
  • Corn on the cob
  • Pizza crust

If you’re worried about maintaining a proper diet after getting braces, speak with your dentist so they can give you their professional advice on what you can and can’t eat.

  1. Popcorn

Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks in the world, and it’s a staple food at theatres across the globe.

But the hard edges, along with the sharp pieces of the kernels, can cause damage to your teeth and gums. The little pieces can get stuck in the gaps in your teeth and can push the small pieces of your braces out of line. 

So, as much as you may be craving a bowl of popcorn, if you have braces, this is a snack to avoid.

  1. Apples, Carrots, or Crunchy Fruits & Vegetables

Even though fruits and vegetables are the staples of any healthy diet, their crunchy, crisp outside can cause damage to your braces. Apples and carrots are an excellent way to get yourself the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy, so it’s beneficial to make some adjustments so you can still eat them.

Instead of eating them raw, try boiling carrots until they’re soft, or mix them into a stew. Instead of eating an apple by hand, try slicing it into smaller, manageable chunks. This can make it much easier to eat with your braces, and reduces the risk of damaging them.

  1. Caramels, Toffees, & Other Sticky Candies

If you have a sweet tooth, there is some bad news—braces may stop you from enjoying a piece of toffee or caramel. 

When you have braces, this sticky, sugary mixture can stick to the small pieces needed to keep your teeth in place. If these pieces become stuck and you try to open your mouth, you can cause serious damage to both the braces and your teeth.

This means it may be better to wait until the braces are off before going on a sugar spree!

  1. Peanut Butter & Sticky Textures

Peanut butter has a thick, sticky consistency, and it can stick to all the parts of your braces. And if you’re eating the chunkier type of peanut butter, the small pieces of nuts can break apart and dislodge in your mouth. This could potentially lead to an orthodontic issue if it were to damage or move any of the small pieces. 

Peanut butter can also get stuck in the gaps in your teeth and braces, creating an ideal environment for bacteria. If you absolutely have to have peanut butter, you should rinse your mouth with water and antibacterial mouthwash after—or, at the very least, switch to smooth peanut butter. 

  1. Sugary Beverages or Snacks

While a sweet glass of soda or lemonade can be refreshing, it’s a double-edged sword. These drinks all contain a ton of sugar, and this can lead to further damage, like tooth decay. 

The same goes for softer, sugary candies and snacks. Small pieces of the candy can get stuck in your braces or between your teeth—where it’s much harder to reach with floss or a toothbrush. This creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that can cause long-term damage to your teeth and gums.

It’s important to note that you can still enjoy these, but in moderation. Follow a proper oral care routine recommended by your dentist to avoid developing problems.

  1. Beef Jerky & Other Tough-To-Chew Meats

If you’re a fan of high-protein meat-based snacks, you’ve likely had beef jerky before. The tough, savoury, chewy texture can be hard to resist when you’re craving a delicious and filling snack. 

But when you have braces, this is definitely a food best left avoided. Biting through a piece of dried and seasoned meat requires a great deal of force, and this can put additional stress on your braces. The small fibres of meat can also get trapped between your braces and your teeth, which could cause damage to the area.

  1. Corn on the Cob

In the summer, there’s nothing like a good piece of corn on the cub. But eating corn puts a lot of strain on your teeth—and your braces—and the little pieces of corn can get stuck behind your teeth. This could potentially misalign your braces or teeth and lead to damage to the area.

  1. Nuts & Seeds

Similar to popcorn, nuts and seeds are often chosen as an easy snack when you have some downtime—and they’re healthier than most options out there! But they come at a cost when you have braces.

Nuts and seeds are hard and crunchy. They require significant force to break through their outer shell and need more effort than most foods to bite through and chew. This can put unnecessary stress on braces and teeth, leading to small parts coming loose and your teeth becoming misaligned.

The small pieces of these snacks can become dislodged and trapped in and around your braces, making it much more difficult to properly clean your teeth. It’s better to choose softer snacks to protect your oral health.

  1. Hard Bread

If you enjoy a nice baguette now and then, or any other hard, crunchy, and crusty pastry, it may be time to rethink this decision. These require more force and chewing than softer options, which can put pressure on your teeth and any surrounding orthodontics. This can make your treatment last longer and increase the risk of small, dry particles getting stuck in your braces and teeth. 

It can help to choose softer foods, or at least remove the crusts, to avoid these potential damages.

  1. Chewy Pizza Crusts

Just like harder and crunchier types of bread, the chewy crust of a pizza can put strain on your teeth and braces.

This texture doesn’t pose the same threat as harder bread, but can still create challenges. Soft pizza crusts can be sticky and cling to the brackets and wires holding your teeth in place. This leads to a breeding ground for bacteria and can make it much more difficult to clean your mouth without damaging your teeth or braces.

If you’re still craving a slice of your favourite pizza, try cutting the crust into small and manageable pieces. Then rinse your mouth when you’re done and thoroughly clean your teeth and braces to avoid developing bacterial buildup!

Close-up of a young woman with braces, smiling and getting her teeth examined by a dentist with a small mirror

Tips for Maintaining Your Braces

If you have braces and you want to know how to properly maintain them—while enjoying some or most of your favourite foods—book an appointment with us at Viceroy Dental. Our team of experienced staff can give you advice on maintaining your braces and provide recommendations on how to alter your diet to avoid causing yourself any unnecessary problems!

Written by Dr. Anikumar Madivalar Gopi

More Articles By Dr. Anikumar Madivalar Gopi
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