Foods to Avoid While Wearing Oral Appliances

Written by Heather Siler

Oral appliances include braces, space maintainers, retainers, overbite correction appliances, expanders, and devices to help cease oral habits. They are used to correct, treat, or prevent conditions related to the upper and lower jaw, teeth, and tissues. Some of these devices are cemented on the teeth, and some are removable. If an appliance is removable, it’s best to remove it while eating. The appliances are durable, but they do have to be treated with care to be successful in treatment. Therefore, many foods should be avoided during treatment to keep them in working order and efficient.

Ice- Chewing ice is very detrimental and can destroy appliances, and even ice with a softer consistency isn’t safe to chew. Ice can bend wires, break or loosen brackets, and damage palatal expanders, overbite correction appliances, and retainers.

Hard food - Hard pretzels, tortilla chips, jerky, pizza crust, uncooked carrots, and nuts can bend wires, break rubber bands, break brackets and tubes, and loosen cement holding the appliance(s) in place.

Hard Candy- Hard candy can stick to the appliance(s) and coat the teeth in sugar for prolonged periods. If chewed, it can break or loosen brackets, loosen cement, bend or break wires, damage tubes, and retainers.

Sticky candy- Gummies, caramels, taffy and any other candy of this sort can bend wires, loosen cement, break or loosen brackets, and destroy retainers. These candies also surround the teeth with sugar for an extended amount of time.

Foods with a high sugar content- Although these foods don’t need to be avoided altogether, cookies, cakes, puddings, and other desserts can linger around the appliance(s) constantly coating the teeth with sugar. It’s best to rinse with water after consuming sweet treats and limit consumption.

Foods high in starch- Starchy foods such as pasta, potatoes, bread, popcorn, and cereals are hard to remove from oral appliances because they are sticky when consumed. They get embedded in the appliance(s) and constantly saturate the teeth with sugar. Popcorn kernels also break, bend, and damage mechanisms.

Suckers and sour candies- Suckers are terrible for teeth with or without appliances. They last for far too long and attack the teeth with sugar byproducts. They are detrimental to oral appliances because they stick to devices and can cause damage. Sour candies are also horrible for teeth, tissue, and oral devices because they are acidic and can cause deterioration of the teeth.

Gum- Gum seems harmless, but it can cause a dental apparatus to malfunction. It sticks to everything and gets intertwined with the appliance(s) and can become a place for plaque to hide. Also, gum can bend wires.

Wearing an oral device is usually for a limited time and although inconvenient, avoiding these foods is a must. It only takes one piece of candy or food to break or damage the appliance and many orthodontics charge fees for fixing or replacing the device. Eating these foods and candies can become expensive and delay treatment. Once the appliance(s) is removed, you can celebrate in moderation with “forbidden foods.”