Ahhh… it’s finally summer! And although it’s pretty warm here in San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe most of the time, there’s just something about this time of year that makes it feel extra enjoyable.
With that in mind, the team at Dr. Melanie Orthodontics is getting excited about eating al fresco — BBQs, picnics, the beach! With pandemic restrictions easing here in California, sharing meals with friends is back on the table, literally. So if you have braces, now’s a good time to refresh yourself on braces-friendly food and a few summer recipes to try at home.
Foods to Eat with Braces
Many of our patients who are new to braces ask us, “What can you eat with braces?” It goes without saying that getting braces means a shift in your eating habits, and often for the better! It turns out, most braces-friendly foods are healthier than some of the foods to avoid with braces. Here’s a list of braces-friendly food you can include in your summer diet:
- Soft fruits and cooked or soft vegetables
- Smoothies and milkshakes
- Scrambled eggs
- Soft cheeses
- Pasta and rice
- Mashed potatoes
Foods to Avoid with Braces
Equally as often, our braces patients ask us, “What can you not eat with braces?” Typical foods to avoid with braces include anything that’s sticky, crunchy, hard, or chewy. Foods like popcorn and candy are at the top of the list, as well as chewy bread crusts and chips. These foods can damage your braces and are known for getting stuck in archwires. We also suggest you don’t drink sugary drinks or eat sugary foods — all those extra nooks and crannies make for great hiding spots for plaque build-up and tooth decay.
Braces-Friendly Summer Recipes
Now that we’ve covered what foods to eat with braces and what to avoid, here are some summer-inspired recipes for braces-friendly eating:
- Roasted Veggie and Pasta Salad
A classic sharing dish, a grilled veggie, and pasta salad is perfect for casual outdoor get-togethers. This recipe’s ingredients are all braces-friendly: Grilled zucchini, red pepper, asparagus, and pasta are all soft and can come fresh from the farmer’s market or your garden.
- Grilled BBQ Salmon
What’s summer without food cooked on the barbecue? Thankfully, you can include grilled meat on your list of what you can eat with braces. We suggest this recipe for grilled salmon as a great, weekday classic. If you’re unsure about your bbq dishes, cut your meat into bite-sized pieces before eating.
- Grilled Sweet Potatoes
A perfect, savory-sweet complement to bbq salmon, a side dish of grilled sweet potatoes is a braces-friendly food that’s easy on the teeth and kid-friendly to boot.
- Lemon Strawberry Smoothie
Let’s be honest. Sometimes wearing braces can be a bit uncomfortable, especially after an adjustment or if your braces are new. Your smile engineer, Dr. Melanie Wang, suggests taking it easy on yourself and eating soft foods when your designer braces give you discomfort. Soft food for braces, like the yogurt and smoothies on our braces-friendly food list, are nutritious and soothing on sore gums and teeth. This lemon strawberry smoothie takes advantage of strawberry season with the added tang of lemon and some protein from greek yogurt.
- Tomato Gazpacho
If you’re feeling fancy, cold soup like gazpacho checks all the boxes: healthy, delicious, in-season, and best of all, it can be one of your summertime go-to soft foods to eat with braces! With just a few ingredients, this gazpacho recipe is fast, easy, and tasty.
- Rainbow Popsicles
Young or old, popsicles are a hot-weather must-have and, yes, you can eat popsicles if you have braces. When it comes to popsicles, Dr. Melanie is all for real fruit and little to no added sweeteners. What’s really fun (and delicious!) is making your own with fresh, in-season fruits like watermelon or strawberries. Yogurt, coconut, or nut milk add extra protein, too. Bonus? With homemade popsicles, you can get super creative with flavor combinations and come up with family-favorite recipes you’ll come back to again and again. A great summer activity is getting your kids to help you decide on flavors and lend a hand in making them!
These super-colorful, seven-layer popsicles are exactly what the doctor ordered. They get their sweetness and vibrancy from a ton of real fruit mixed with yogurt and are basically seven frozen smoothies in each one! Feel free to swap out any of the fruits for flavor mixes that suit your taste and for color combinations that fit any special occasion. Red, white, and blue popsicles, anyone?
- Three-Ingredient Fudge Pops
Get your chocolate fix (covered later in this post) in popsicle form with this fudgy, creamy fudge pop recipe that only needs chocolate pudding mix, sugar, and almond milk. Of course, we suggest adding the sugar to taste (aka, less is more) or, better yet, use sugar substitutes that don’t promote tooth decay such as xylitol, Splenda (sucralose), or stevia.
Remember that with popsicles, moderation and thorough oral hygiene is key to worry-free enjoyment. Even if you’re using sugar substitutes, fruit has natural sugars and yogurt has lactose that can stick to teeth.
And pro tip: Ensure they don’t damage your braces by allowing them to melt a bit before eating and try not to bite into them.
Can you Eat Ice Cream with Braces?
Since we’re talking about braces-friendly summer food, you might be wondering about that creamy, frozen one that comes in a cone? Yes, ice cream! Can you eat ice cream with braces? Well, while we don’t recommend eating ice cream every day — for both oral and general health reasons — we think the occasional indulgence is okay, especially in celebration of summer. Just be sure to brush your teeth afterward or at least rinse your mouth with water to wash away clingy sugars.
If you recently started braces treatment, however, the answer to, “Can you eat ice cream with braces?” might be, “Wait.” You might find that ice cream is too cold for how sensitive your teeth are during the beginning of treatment.
Can you Eat Chocolate with Braces?
Okay, so we’ve covered treats like candy (it’s a no), popsicles (it’s a yes, just occasionally), and ice cream (again, yes, once in a while). How about that other treat heavy-hitter: chocolate? We’ve had many patients wonder, “Can you eat chocolate with braces?” Aside from the obvious sugar concerns, eating chocolate when you have braces is a thumbs up from us with a few things to keep in mind:
- Eat room temperature chocolate since chocolate straight out of the fridge will be too hard
- Eat dark chocolate because of its lower sugar content
- Eat it with meals instead of snacking on it by itself
- Drink or rinse your mouth with water to remove food debris and sticky sugar from your teeth as best you can
- Brush your teeth afterward, but wait about 30 minutes. Sugar softens tooth enamel and you want it to recover before brushing
- Use an interdental toothbrush to clean any bits of chocolate that could be caught between your brackets or archwires
Start Your Summer With Designer Braces
Wearing braces doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the summer foods you love. If you have any questions or are ready to start your smile journey with braces, contact us for a free initial consultation. Start your designer smile journey with Dr. Melanie this summer!