Getting braces for the first time is never easy. A lot of kids have anxiety about getting braces, even when they receive them at an older age. Many children are insecure about the appearance of braces, for one thing. For another, they hate the idea of giving up certain foods for a period of time. Ultimately, however, braces are not nearly as visually distracting as kids think they are — they often now are able to choose the colors of their braces and find them unobtrusive. For that matter, giving up bubble gum and popcorn for a while is worth it in the long term. Braces straighten the teeth, correct defects that will cause painful bite problems in the future, and leave a more flattering smile behind.
Of course, there is some minor discomfort that comes with braces initially and a bit of a learning curve. Your child will likely experience some soreness in the first couple of days after their braces are put in place. And you as the parent will have to not only accommodate that initial problem — which will resolve itself — but deal with the adjusted diet that is required of those who have braces. Yes, there are certain foods that people can’t eat while wearing braces. But there are also things that they can eat instead, and foods that are easier to eat right after they get braces. Below, we’re looking into what foods should take priority following the application of braces — and what types of foods should be avoided.
As previously mentioned, popcorn should be avoided after a child’s braces are initially put in place, and should continue to be cut out of their diet for the duration of their wear-time. The issue with popcorn is that kernels. These are easily caught between a person’s teeth without braces and can be difficult to remove. Once a child is wearing braces, the kernels and partial kernels can easily become caught in their metal braces. This type of food is hard to remove. The issue with food getting caught in braces is that it will eventually, if not removed, rot within the braces and potentially cause rot or infection in the surrounding teeth and gums. It can contribute to the types of issues that cause abscessed wisdom teeth — third molars at the back of the mouth which often become impacted and don’t have the room to develop normally. At the very least, it smells awful, and can ultimately compromise the braces themselves. Popcorn just isn’t worth the risk!
Try: Soft Cheese
Kids may be disappointed about having to give up popcorn, as it’s definitely among a typical kid’s favorite snacks. You can replace that type of snack with soft snack cheeses, like string cheese for example. The advantage of soft cheeses over hard snacks like popcorn is that they break down over time. This means that if a bit of cheese gets stuck in your child’s braces, it will likely unstick itself, as it were, or simply dissolve. Your child will most likely remove it without even realizing it was there while brushing their teeth. This applies to other types of cheese, like cottage cheese as well.
Avoid: Hard Candy
There are several reasons why your child should avoid the hard candy they probably love — like Jolly Ranchers, for example, or jawbreakers — after they receive braces. This type of candy is often quite sticky, and can easily become trapped in braces just like popcorn came, with some of it melting and some not breaking down as easily. When kids are biting down and crunching on this type of food, they may also dislodge their braces, and take them out of their proper alignment. As the typical person has to wear braces for around two years, the less extra time and money you can spend on having them fixed, the better. When braces are put out of alignment without you or your child realizing it, you may also find that they adjust the teeth incorrectly, leaving your child with more dental issues than what they started with. As such, hard candies should be avoided entirely.
Of course, you’ll probably notice a trend of soft food versus hard food — but you should try pudding rather than soft candy if your child needs a sweet treat. Pudding won’t get caught in their braces at all, due to its form. This is not only good for the braces but also a bit less embarrassing than types of food that get stuck in the teeth even temporarily — as 32% of people report being concerned by the look of your teeth, your child will probably want to avoid that as much as you do! Pudding still takes care of that proverbial sweet tooth, and it’s also probably going to be one of the easier foods for your child to eat right after they receive braces and are still sore around the mouth.
Braces will probably seem like a big deal for your child initially — but try to reassure them that it’s not the end of the world. After all, an estimated 4 million Americans now wear braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. But nonetheless, it will definitely be easier for them to cope with their initial disdain for their braces if you should them that there are alternative types of food for them to eat. Sure, they might have to give up their favorite snacks and treats for a while — but they’ll likely find something during that time that they like just as much!