Eating can be quiet a challenge during the first few painful weeks in
braces -- especially if you are trying to eat holiday food for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Chanukah! Brackets are poking into your gums and cheeks, and you just can't
seem to chew properly.
When you get braces on your teeth, 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. How long will eating be a challenge? Most people find that they are more
comfortable and can chew food more properly in 2 to 3 weeks after the braces go
on. Patience is the key.
Here are some tips to make it easier for you to cope:
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!
Stick to soft food. Eventually you'll be able to eat steak again. But for
the next few weeks, lean toward soft foods.
Avoid stringy foods, especially if you have a palate expander. You may love
to wind your spaghetti 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 brackets.
Also, be careful with foods that get stringy when they melt, like mozzarella
Forget the nuts and seeds. These will get stuck in your brackets and drive
you crazy until you finally brush and get them out. Ditto for the hulls of
popcorn. Sticky foods will likely stick to your brackets and be hard to clean off. You also want to avoid biting into anything hard that may break or pop off a bracket.
Bite with the side of your mouth. It may be virtually impossible to bite
into anything with your front teeth for a while. Get used to biting with
your side teeth, instead. Besides, if you try to bite into a burrito with
your front teeth, your front brackets will probably get plastered with
Speaking of burritos, beware of anything with large hidden chunks of meat or
vegetables, like burritos or sandwich wraps. Bite carefully into those types
of foods so that you don't choke, or better yet, eat them with a fork and
Sushi will be very challenging and could gag you. You should probably cut it
in half instead of trying to pop an entire piece of it into your mouth.
Treat yourself to something cold, such as ice cream, popsicles, or frozen
yogurt. The cold temporarily dulls the pain from your braces. (For longer
lasting pain relief, check out the gumEase product).
Develop an arsenal of soft food recipes. 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 Cookbook,
Cookbook2, Tender Teeth Cookbook, and
Surviving Braces. Also check out the
soft food suggestions on our sister website,
If eating becomes too uncomfortable because of mouth sores or poking
brackets, apply plenty of dental wax
or dental silicone. Or tray a new
product called Comfort Brace.
The first few weeks of braces are the worst. But after your gums toughen up
with scar tissue, and you get used to chewing and eating differently, you'll
find that food isn't giving you as much trouble as it was before. In a few
months, you'll be able to manage some crunchy food, and wearing braces won't
be as much of a painful ordeal.
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.