What You Can and Can't Eat With Braces

Making the Best Food Choices While You Wear Braces

The Best and Worst Food Choices for People With Braces
Verywell / Jessica Olah

Do you know what you can and can't eat with braces? Having braces doesn't mean that you will be living on bland, pureed foods during your treatment. Knowing what foods you can and can't eat with your braces will help you achieve the optimum results after your orthodontic treatment has been completed.

Preventing damage to the archwires, bands, and brackets as well as keeping your teeth free from tooth decay during your treatment should be your number one concern. Use this list to take the guesswork out—and keep your food choices enjoyable and tasty.

  • Soft fruit

  • Cooked vegetables

  • Soft cooked grains, soft crusted bread

  • Milk and yogurt

  • Lean, tender meat, tofu

  • Smooth nut spreads

  • Eating a variety of foods

Use Caution
  • Hard fruit

  • Hard raw vegetables

  • Unground whole grains, hard crusted bread

  • Meat from the bone

  • Whole or chunky nuts and seeds

  • Candy


Fruit is an essential part of a healthy diet. It is recommended that children eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit daily. Even though fruit is a great choice for your health, how you choose to eat it can be a challenge when you have braces.

Hard fruit, like an apple, for example, can be very difficult to bite into because of the brackets that are on the teeth. Unripe pears and peaches pose the same problem. To consume hard fruits, cut them into bite-sized pieces so that they can be chewed with the back teeth.

Soft fruits are easily bitten into for braces wearers, but when teeth are tender, especially after a wire change, even soft fruit can be painful to eat. Choose fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries for days when your teeth are tender.


Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that are essential for growing bodies. Children should consume 1 to 2 cups of vegetables daily. Like fruit, vegetables need to be prepared slightly differently for people who wear braces.

Hard, raw vegetables, such as carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, are tough to bite into with braces and may even pop a bracket off the tooth. When preparing raw vegetables, cut them into bite-sized pieces that can be easily chewed with the back teeth.

Most vegetables may be enjoyed cooked, which is a braces wearer's dream because cooking automatically softens the food. If you are having a problem eating your favorite vegetable raw, try steaming it until it's tender, or boil or roast it until it's soft. 


Grains provide fiber, iron, and many other important nutrients. Whole grain products provide the optimum nutritional value for your buck.

Grains are generally an easy food group for braces wearers because most grain products are very soft and easily chewed. However, there are a few grain products braces wearers should be cautious of.

Eating hard-crusted bread, such as a bagel, is difficult for someone with braces because it is very hard to bite into. Soften bread by warming it, or break it into bite-sized pieces before eating.

Unground whole grains are also a challenge because they can become stuck in between the braces, attachments, and even the teeth, which makes them very hard to remove. Avoid small seeds and grains.


Strong bones and teeth rely on a diet that is rich in calcium. Dairy products provide us with calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein. Dairy products are an excellent choice for braces wearers because most dairy products are soft and require very little chewing.

Select from a variety of dairy products, such as low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, and low-fat yogurt. If you are lactose intolerant, soy-based dairy products are a great dairy alternative that is also generally soft and easily consumed with braces.

When eating soft cheese, you may find that it becomes stuck between the braces and wires. Try to prepare bite-sized pieces of cheese, or purchase a string cheese product that is easily peeled apart.


Meat supplies protein and iron. Both are essential, especially for growing bodies. Meat, however, poses a problem for braces wearers because it's fibrous, making it hard to chew. Stringy meat will often become stuck in braces or between the teeth.

Tough cuts can also be so difficult to chew that they end up loosening the bands that surround the molars. Eating meat right from the bone, such as chicken wings and ribs, is dangerous for your braces because you risk popping off a bracket.

Select lean, tender cuts of meat and cut them into bite-sized pieces before you eat. Also, remove meat from the bone before eating. Some good protein choices include fish, chicken, and lean beef or pork. Tofu is also a good vegetarian option, since it's soft.

Nuts and Seeds

Carefully selecting your choices from this vegetarian group will help keep your braces secure, because eating nuts and seeds can be very challenging for braces wearers.

Nuts and seeds are very hard, and they are very small—two challenging aspects for someone who wears braces. Biting down on a hard nut or seed can easily break a band or bracket off from the tooth.

Nuts and seeds are also responsible for bending the archwires, even though they may not break anything off. A bent wire can move the teeth into an undesired position, setting you back in valuable treatment time.

Select nut spreads, such as peanut butter or almond butter, or coarsely grind your favorite nuts and seeds and use them as a topping for yogurt or other foods.

Candy, Snacks, and Gum: The Non-Food Groups

Candy isn't an official food group, but let's face it: most people do enjoy the occasional candy from time to time. However, eating candy, or anything with sugar, can be very destructive to your braces and possibly to the tooth's surface as well.

Candy can be broken into two groups: hard and sticky. Morsels of toffee will adhere to the brackets and bands, which can easily break them off. Hard chocolate-covered nuts will do damage similar to its stick counterpart. Gummy candy will bend archwires and get stuck under your braces' attachments.

Snacks such as chips, cookies, and ice cream, as well as carbonated soft drinks, can also contain significant amounts of sugar and should be very limited as well. If you do consume sugar, brush your teeth afterward.

Gum and bubblegum should also be avoided and deserve special mention. Gum that starts out hard and softens after repeated chews can break brackets and bend wires. As the gum softens, it becomes sticky and will stick to brackets and wires, making them very difficult to clean.

Eating candy should be avoided during your orthodontic treatment. Teeth are more vulnerable to decay while in braces. Therefore, eliminating excessive sugar is very important during your treatment.

Bringing It All Together: Enjoy the Variety

Eating with braces doesn't have to be boring. While you should use caution and avoid eating hard or sticky foods or candy, now that you know what you can and can't eat with braces, you'll be able to choose from a wide variety of braces-friendly foods that are readily available and easily prepared.

Try to select a variety of foods from all of the food groups listed above. Ensuring that your diet remains healthy during your orthodontic treatment is just as important as your overall treatment's outcome.

If you are having a hard time connecting with your inner chef and you find your braces-friendly foods are bland and just plain boring, try searching for a braces-friendly cookbook or recipes that will help bring the excitement back to your taste buds.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Dental Association. What (and how) to eat when you're having dental issues.

  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Choose My Plate.

By Shawn Watson
Shawn Watson is an orthodontic dental assistant and writer with over 10 years of experience working in the field of dentistry.