10 Tips for Eating Holiday Food With Dental Braces or Invisalign
Eating can be a challenge when you have braces on your teeth -- especially when you are faced with tempting holiday food for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah. Brackets often poke into your gums and cheeks, and you just can't seem to chew properly. Even wearers of invisible braces such as Invisalign, Smile Direct, and Clear Correct face issues in the holiday season, having to constantly remove and clean aligner trays and deal with tooth pain.
When you have braces, you may find that your teeth don't touch the way they did before, which changes the way you chew. As your treatment continues and your teeth shift, you may continually need to adapt to biting and chewing in a slightly different way.
Patience is the key, but it may be in short supply when you’re faced with delicious hard-to-resist holiday foods, which can be sticky, chewy, or contain nuts! Here are some tips to help you deal with the holidays when you are in dental braces:
1. Slow down. Chew slowly and carefully and cut your food into small pieces. Forget about taking big bites of anything or wolfing down your food. The key word here is: SLOW! Even if you wear invisible braces, your bite may have changed, causing you to chew differently. So, slow down!
2. Stick to soft food. But when faced with foods that might be a bit chewy, your knife and fork are your best friends. Cut that turkey and ham into small pieces, enjoy soups and soft foods like mashed potatoes, soften the stuffing with gravy, and stick to smooth jellied cranberry sauce.
3. Avoid stringy foods, especially if you have a traditional braces or wear a palate expander. You may love to wind your pasta around your fork, but for now it would be better for you to cut it into small pieces, or it will get wound around your braces brackets. Also, be careful with foods that get stringy when cooked, like some soft cheeses and spaghetti squash.
4. You may love pecan pie, but for right now it won’t love you! Invisalign wearers might find this sweet treat too painful to chew. Foods with nuts and seeds often get stuck in traditional brackets and will drive you crazy until you finally brush and get them out. Sticky foods will likely stick to your brackets and make a mess. Avoid biting into anything hard that may break or pop off a bracket, such as candy canes or hard cookies. For dessert, go for the pumpkin pie, mousse, pudding, soft truffles and cakes, or ice cream. Or chop the pecans extremely finely in a food processor and make a special small tart for yourself.
5. Bite with the side of your mouth. It may be virtually impossible to bite into anything with your front teeth, anyway! Get used to biting with your side teeth, instead.
6. Beware of anything containing large hidden chunks of meat or vegetables, such as burritos or sandwich wraps (including that leftover turkey sandwich!) Bite carefully into those types of foods so that you don't choke, or better yet, eat them with a fork and knife instead.
7. One-bite type appetizers and sushi can be very challenging and could gag you. You should probably cut these in half instead of trying to pop an entire piece of it into your mouth. Avoid appetizers that are hard; stick to the softer ones. Raw fruits and veggies are great but take small bites or cut them into thin pieces.
8. Develop an arsenal of soft food recipes and bring something to the holiday table that you know you can eat, and that others will enjoy. You don't need to sentence yourself to boring soups and shakes. There are several cookbooks that can help you prepare healthy, delicious meals, such as The Braces Cookbook2. Also check out the soft food suggestions on ArchWired.com.
9. If eating becomes too uncomfortable because of mouth sores or poking brackets, apply plenty of dental wax or dental silicone. DentaKit.com carries a wide variety of products to help with orthodontic pain, many which are not sold in local stores, including several types of lip bumpers and braces covers.
10. Holiday eating often involves parties or dinners away from home. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that orthodontic patients brush and floss shortly after eating, so a good dental kit is essential. DentaKit.com makes a deluxe Braces Survival Kit, which neatly contains everything you need to keep your braces clean on-the go. If you wear Invisalign or retainers, you can keep your aligner trays clean with Cleanse Freshen Go Retainer Wipes.
Celebrating the holidays with orthodontic braces may be challenging, but you can get through it successfully with a little forethought, adapted recipes, and the right dental products.
About The Author
Lynn S. is the founder and owner of DentaKit.com. Shortly after getting braces in 2001 at age 41, Lynn realized that there was no convenient way for her to find the orthodontic products she needed locally. She created DentaKit.com to give orthodontic patients easy access to products that would help keep their braces and retainers clean and comfortable. Along the way, she also created ArchWired.com and its Metal Mouth Message Board to provide vital information and an online community for adults who have orthodontic braces.
Lynn has a degree in Communications and Journalism, with a focus on scientific writing and research. Before founding DentaKit.com, she was a technical writer and technical trainer for various high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. Since starting DentaKit.com 15+ years ago, she has attended many meetings of various dental associations, and has read and researched extensively on a variety of orthodontic and dental subjects. The articles she writes are always vetted by one or more orthodontists or dentists before they are published.