We all know that braces help to realign crooked teeth. But that’s not all that they do! Braces can help to correct a number of oral issues. Braces can address many oral issues, including teeth that are in the wrong place, teeth that are trying to be in the same place as other teeth, and teeth that aren’t even there at all!
Teeth that are crooked or just don’t line up properly. Like we said, this is a common reason someone may suspect that they need braces. Crooked teeth can cause someone to feel self-conscious. Someone may not want to smile or laugh or even talk as much for fear that others will see that their teeth aren’t as straight as they’d like them to be. (See more about the many benefits of smiling in a recent blog post of ours!)
Teeth that are too crowded, or too far spread out. Braces don’t just help teeth straighten. They help their spacing, too. If teeth are too crowded together or spread too far apart, they can wear unevenly, and make cleaning more difficult, resulting in gum disease and decay.
Teeth that bite the inside of the mouth. If your teeth naturally bite the roof of your mouth or the inside of your cheek, it can cause a great amount of discomfort and even damage to the tissue. Many people develop painful mouth sores when they bite the insides of their mouths. Closing your mouth in a resting position should be just that—restful. If your natural oral resting position is causing you pain because your teeth are biting into your cheek or other parts of your mouth, braces may be very helpful.
Extra teeth or not enough teeth. Some people grow more teeth than the typical person. Other people don’t grow enough teeth. Braces can be used in these patients to help with the spacing of these teeth—either to make sure each tooth gets the room it deserves, or to help the other teeth make room for permanent dental implants (fake teeth that take the place of teeth that just didn’t ever grow).
If in doubt, ask a professional! These are just a few of the common reasons people may need braces. If you think braces are something from which you can benefit, ask! If you have an orthodontist (like us!), ask about your specific issue to see what the doctor recommends. If you don’t yet have a relationship with an orthodontist, your dentist can answer some of your questions and refer you to a trusted orthodontist (like us!).
Braces work hard to move our teeth so they’re straight and beautiful. But braces aren’t invincible. Much of what we eat everyday can damage our braces and prevent them from doing their job! Learning the do’s and don’t’s of eating with braces can, just like anything else, be difficult to get used to. But once you do, you’ll have no problem protecting your braces from the food you eat and helping them do what they were made to do.
What is nutritionally healthy for your body is not always safe for your braces. Braces-wearers should follow a few cardinal rules when making food choices.
Avoid sticky or chewy foods.
Sticky foods, including gum, can get caught in your braces and be difficult to clean off. People who don’t wear braces should avoid sticky candies anyway, because the sticky sugar can stick between your teeth and cause cavities. With braces, there are more places for the sticky stuff to hide, making it harder to clean and likelier to produce cavities.
Sticky foods include taffy, caramels, and other candy, and also gum.
Avoid hard, crunchy, and tough foods.
Food that requires a substantial amount of biting or ripping pressure to eat may not be the best choice with braces. When you’re crunching down hard on that carrot or tugging at the crust of pizza, you’re also putting that extra pressure on your braces, which can damage them.
Hard, crunchy, and tough foods to avoid include meats like jerky, raw vegetables, nuts, and ice.
Avoid the big stuff.
Some foods are perfectly safe for you to eat with braces, if you eat them the right way. Foods like burgers, corn, and bagels just need a little extra prep before making their way into your mouth. Cut the burger or bagel into bite-sized pieces. Cut the corn off the cob. Taking small, separate bites will protect your braces.
Food Prep is Key!
So many foods have the potential to be either really harmful to your braces or pretty safe. It all depends on how you prepare them. Vegetables that would be a major no-no raw are a delicious, healthy, braces-friendly side dish once they’ve been steamed and cut into bite-sized pieces. Taco Tuesday can still be a huge hit as long as you reach for a soft tortilla instead of a hard taco shell. Search out hull-less popcorn to avoid getting popcorn kernels stuck in your teeth.
Stick to the Soft Stuff
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong if you stick to tried and true, braces-safe soft food that is gentle on your mouth. Foods like yogurt, ice cream, eggs, pudding, applesauce, pasta, and muffins are all delicious and won’t hurt your braces.
When you realize how much you can actually eat with braces, you’ll see that it is entirely possible to have a healthy, delicious, well-rounded diet and also keep your braces safe!