Happy (almost) holidays! Can you believe we’re so close to the most wonderful time of the year? At Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, we’re already looking forward to family gatherings, festive celebrations and delicious holiday meals. But if you’ve just started treatment with braces, you might be wondering, “What can I eat with braces during the holidays?”

Well, we’re happy to report that you can pretty much enjoy all your favorites, with just a few minor exceptions. Here, your San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe orthodontist tells you everything you need to know about eating with braces over the holidays, including:

  • What you can (and cannot) eat with braces
  • Holiday foods to avoid with braces
  • Safe holiday foods for braces

How to Eat with Braces: A Refresher

Before we talk specifically about holiday foods, it’s helpful to keep a few rules for eating with braces in mind. As you already know, some foods are not safe for braces. That’s because certain foods can get caught behind your brackets and wires, making it harder to clean your teeth effectively, or could risk damaging your hardware. If food gets stuck in your braces, it can lead to harmful build-up of plaque and bacteria, which is a leading cause of tooth decay and gum disease. If you break a bracket or wire, it’s not only uncomfortable and inconvenient — it could also set your treatment time back. And nobody wants that!

So, to prevent gum disease and avoid damage to your teeth or braces, you’ll need to avoid eating certain foods with braces. This includes anything hard, crunchy, sticky, chewy or foods you have to bite into. Here are some examples of foods to avoid with braces:

Hard/crunchy foods: hard rolls, hard taco shells, nuts, hard candies, popcorn, chips

Sticky foods: taffy, caramel, Starburst, chewing gum

Chewy foods: dense breads like pizza crusts or bagels, licorice, beef jerky

Foods you bite into: whole apples, whole carrots, corn on the cob, meat on the bone

It seems like a lot, but you can still enjoy most of the above foods as long as you cut them into bite-sized pieces. As for what you can eat with braces, everything else is fair game. That said, your teeth will likely be quite sensitive after you first get your braces put on and after each time you get them tightened, so you’ll want to stick to cold foods, soft foods and liquids until your teeth adjust. Here are some foods that are great for braces:

  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Smoothies
  • Ice cream
  • Soups
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Soft cheese
  • Pudding
  • Steamed veggies
  • Rice
  • Soft meats like fish or pulled pork
  • Pasta
  • Bananas
  • Bite-sized (or cut-up) fruits
  • Beans

And the list goes on. Ready to find out what holiday foods you can eat with braces? Read on.

Holiday Foods to Avoid with Braces

Well, you knew this was coming. Just like there are foods to avoid in your everyday life with braces, there are some holiday classics that you’ll need to skip until next year. The same rules for eating with braces still apply, so that means no hard, crunchy, sticky or chewy foods, or foods you bite directly into. Here are some holiday foods that aren’t safe for braces:

  • Hard candies, such as candy canes
  • Hard or crunchy gingerbread cookies
  • Peanut brittle or toffee
  • Popcorn
  • Caramel or candy apples
  • Nuts, including roasted and raw
  • Any treats with nuts (including butter tarts, pies, muffins or cookies)
  • Hard, chewy dinner rolls
  • Meat on the bone (unless you cut it off the bone)
  • Raw veggies (like on a veggie platter)

Best Holiday Foods for Braces

Time to get to the good stuff: all the delicious, amazing holiday foods you can safely eat with braces. Fortunately, most holiday foods are braces-friendly, so you’ll hardly have to compromise. Here’s what to eat this holiday season with braces:

  • Soft meats like ham, fish, brisket and, of course, turkey!
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Brussel sprouts and other roasted veggies
  • Candied yams
  • Casseroles
  • Any soft-cooked or steamed vegetables
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Stuffing (without nuts)
  • Pie (again, with no nuts)
  • Soft cookies
  • Cake and brownies without nuts
  • Soft cheeses
  • Cheesecake
  • Apple cider
  • Hot chocolate
  • Eggnog

If you thought you’d have to miss out on all your favorite holiday eats, we hope we’ve set your mind (and your tummy) at ease. Just because you have braces this holiday season doesn’t mean you can’t feast to your heart’s content. As long as you follow the rules and be careful to avoid any off-limits braces foods, you’ll be able to eat your way through to the new year.

Still have questions about what to eat during the holidays with braces? Want to end the year by starting your journey to a straighter smile? Contact Dr. Melanie Orthodontics for a free consultation today.

Dr. Melanie

Author Dr. Melanie

More posts by Dr. Melanie

Leave a Reply