What Can I Eat with Braces and Invisalign?

We’ve all seen kids with food stuck in their braces. It doesn’t look or feel good, and if you break your brackets, it can make your treatment take longer. Changing your diet to adapt to your braces will make treatment more comfortable, more likely to stay on track, and you’ll spend less time in the office getting your braces fixed. With Invisalign, however, there is usually no need to change your diet because you take your aligners out whenever you eat. Food modifications are among the biggest differences between orthodontic treatment with braces and Invisalign.

In this article, you’ll learn:

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Why you need to change your diet with braces

Brackets are small metal or clear squares glued to each of your teeth during treatment with braces. Because these brackets are glued on, they can easily come loose if you eat something too hard or crunchy or bite down at just the right angle. If a bracket becomes loose, your teeth will not move properly. You’ll likely need to be seen for an extra appointment so the bracket can be glued back on. If this happens multiple times throughout treatment, it can extend how long the braces are on.

Foods you can eat with braces

There are many foods you can still eat with braces, you just have to be more thoughtful about what and how you eat. The following foods are generally safe for braces and other fixed (glued-on) appliances like a palatal expander:

  • Soup
  • Chicken strips
  • Soft bagels (cut up)
  • Tortillas
  • Apples (cut up)
  • Carrots
  • Corn (off the cob)
  • Boneless ribs
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Spaghetti
  • Fruit leather
  • Shelled sunflower seeds
  • Cottage cheese
  • Lays & Pringles Potato chips
  • NutriGrain Bars
  • Seedless grapes
  • Yogurt
  • Banana, peaches, nectarines (sliced)
  • Smoothies
  • Chex mix (no nuts/crunch)
  • Sugarless gum
  • ice cream (no nuts/crunch)

Foods you should avoid with braces

When you have braces or other fixed (glued-on) appliances, it is best to avoid anything hard, sticky, or crunchy. It is also helpful to cut up your food into smaller pieces since biting into large pieces of food can break braces off, or it can cause your wires to break or move. Here are some foods you should avoid with braces and other fixed appliances:

  • Hard bagels
  • Hard pizza crust
  • Crunchy taco shells
  • Ribs on the bone
  • Chicken on the bone
  • Whole apples
  • Whole carrots
  • Corn on the cob
  • Crunchy granola bars
  • Popcorn
  • Tim’s Cascade Chips/Kettle Chips
  • Nuts (all kinds)
  • Jerky
  • Crunchy Cheetos
  • Caramels/Laffy Taffy/Jolly Panchers
  • Sugar gum
  • Hard cookies
  • Corn Nuts

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What happens if you break your braces/brackets or wire

If a bracket or wire becomes loose, your teeth no longer move as they should and your treatment will not progress properly. If your next scheduled appointment is soon, we may choose to wait until this visit to fix your bracket or wire. If you are not scheduled for your next appointment or your next visit is too far out, we will likely have you come in for an extra visit to fix your braces. We understand that broken brackets happen on occasion, and that’s ok. But if the breakage becomes frequent, treatment will take longer and you’ll spend much more time in our office.

Eating and drinking with Invisalign

With Invisalign clear aligners, you usually do not need to change your diet because you will take your aligners out every time you eat. Snack time? Take your aligners out, set them in your retainer case, eat your snack, rinse your mouth with water, and put your aligners right back in. Dinner time? Same thing. Aligners out, eat, rinse mouth, aligners back in.

There are two exceptions to this:

  1. Attachments.

  2. Attachments are tooth-colored pieces of material that are glued onto your teeth to help grab onto your aligners. These attachments also help create particular movements of your teeth and they stay on your teeth throughout the course of your treatment. Foods that have strong color can stain or discolor your attachments. If you are worried about discoloration, you can avoid or limit foods with strong colors, like Coffee, red wine, and yellow curry.

  3. Buttons for elastics.

  4. Buttons are small, round, and either tooth-colored or metal pieces of material that your elastics will wrap around. Elastics are small rubber bands that help correct your bite by connecting the upper and lower arches. Many times, buttons are unaffected by eating hard or crunchy foods, but other times, they can break off. Typically we will start your Invisalign treatment without any food restrictions and if button breakage becomes an issue, then you can adapt your diet.

You can drink water with your aligners in, but you should avoid drinking anything else while your aligners are on your teeth. Drinking anything colored, sugary, or carbonated erodes the enamel on your teeth and this process is exacerbated when your aligners are in, holding the substances against your teeth.

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The Takeaway

Choosing braces or Invisalign for your orthodontic treatment often comes down to whether you want/can change your diet. If you can follow the recommendations above, then both Invisalign and braces are great options for your treatment. If you really love your crunchy snack foods and ribs and fried chicken on the 4th of July, braces will not be your friend. Weighing the pros and cons of both appliances and visualizing how both will change your daily routines can help you pick the right appliance for your treatment.

Our treatment coordinators and clinical team are happy to help you determine which appliance is a good fit for you or your child, just reach out!

We're conveniently located in SW Portland, serving Beaverton, the Pearl District, Lake Oswego, and surrounding areas.

Erin Fortman is a long-time employee of Garfinkle Orthodontics, working as our Marketing and Treatment Coordinator. She is a mother of two young children and a former patient of Dr. Garfinkle, which provides her with a unique and in-depth understanding of the orthodontic process as it relates to the concerns of our patients and their parents.