If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll probably encounter some cravings for sweets while you’re wearing braces. Whether it’s candy on Halloween or a sweet treat after dinner, it’s difficult to say no to your favorite treats and sweets. However, as delicious as some of these yummy favorites sound, certain candies need to be avoided while you’re wearing braces to ensure your braces are cared for correctly.
Dangers of Eating Sugar with Braces
First, it’s important to understand the dangers of sugar to your teeth when you’re wearing braces.
- What Sugar Does to Teeth – When you eat sugar, your mouth ends up dealing with a 20-minute acid attack. Eating just a single piece of candy means that your tooth enamel is being attacked for 20 minutes by millions of bad bacteria colonies. The more sweets you indulge in, the worse the attack is on your teeth. If you indulge in too much sugar when you have braces, you could end up with a spotty surprise when they come off. Sugar results in acids in the mouth, which can cause decay. When grime builds up under your braces, it may leave white spots behind. The increasingly acidic environment in your mouth created by eating sugar also can erode tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to tooth decay. While sugar is always hard on your teeth, it’s even more of a problem when you’re wearing braces.
- Carbs and Starchy Foods are Problematic Too – Don’t make the mistake of thinking you only need to avoid sweets. Carbs and starchy foods break down into sugars, which result in the production of acid as well. Skip the potato chips, white bread, and other starchy choices.
- Specific Problems with Candy – Beyond all the sugar, candy comes with some other particular problems for people who wear braces. It’s often hard, chewy, or gummy, which means those sugars could stay on your teeth even longer.
Sweets to Avoid
You don’t have to avoid all sweets the whole time you’re wearing braces. However, here are a few of the top sweets you need to avoid while obtaining your perfect smile.
- Caramels – Avoid anything with caramel. It easily sticks to teeth and your braces, and it’s a nightmare to try to get it out. It will stick on your teeth and let the sugar go to work on your tooth enamel, so steer clear of caramels while you’re wearing braces.
- Anything Gummy – Anything gummy like gummy bears, or other gummy candies should be avoided. They are also known to stick to teeth and braces.
- Hard Candies – Think about how sensitive your teeth can be when you wear braces. Biting into a piece of hard candy can damage your braces. Another problem with hard candies is that they stay in your mouth a long time, which means your teeth are continually bathed with sugar.
- Chewy Sweets – Chewy sweets like candy bars that contain nougat, or salt water taffy not only stick to braces and your teeth, but all that chewing could make a band or bracket pop loose.
- Sweets with Nuts – Nuts are a healthy snack, but candies with nuts are a terrible choice when you’re wearing braces. They can damage wires, rubber bands, or even your brackets, so it’s best to skip them.
When You Do Indulge
The good news – wearing braces doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets and treats completely. It’s okay to indulge once in a while if you make the right choices. When you do have a craving, keep the following tips in mind so you can enjoy a treat without damage your teeth or braces.
- Tip #1 – Go with Softer, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Options – If you’re going to have something sweet, go with softer, melt-in-your-mouth sweets like chocolate or peanut butter cups. These choices don’t stick to your teeth as much, they simply melt away. They also aren’t hard to bite into, and they should not cause damage to your braces.
- Tip #2 – Try Fruit Smoothies for Something Sweet – When you’re in the mood for something sweet, consider trying a fruit smoothie instead of going with a dessert or a piece of candy that’s packed with sugar. Although fruit contains natural sugars, it’s a much healthier choice for your oral health and your overall health. You’ll get something that tastes sweet without doing as much damage to teeth. Another healthier idea is to slice pieces of fruit to snack on instead of grabbing a sugar-laden treat.
- Tip #3 – Don’t Eat Sugar All Day Long – While it’s fine to indulge in sweets that are safe for braces from time to time, make sure that you’re not eating sugar all day long. Choose a time to eat a treat instead of popping sweets in your mouth off and on throughout your day. Remember, every time you eat sugar you’re starting a new acid attack on your teeth, so don’t put your teeth under attack multiple times a day.
- Tip #4 – Brush and Floss 30 Minutes After Sweets – Brushing and flossing after indulging in sweets is essential. However, you shouldn’t brush right away. You don’t want to brush while those acids are attacking your teeth since this could cause greater damage to your tooth enamel. After you indulge, immediately rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. Then brush and floss 30 minutes later for the best results. It’s especially important to brush and floss well before you go to bed so you don’t have sugar sitting on your teeth all night long.
Sure, there are some sweets that you should definitely avoid while you’re wearing braces, but it is okay to indulge in safe treats from time to time. The goal of wearing braces is to improve your smile and the overall function of your smile, and this means being sensible about the amount of sugar you consume. To learn more about other foods and drinks you should avoid while wearing braces, be sure to talk to Dr. Laster.
Don’t forget that Laster Orthodontics is happy to pay you for your Halloween candy. We will be donating this year's candy donations to the Ronald McDonald House. Don’t harm your teeth and braces with sticky, chewy, and sugary candy. Let us buy your Halloween candy and donate it to those in need!
At Laster Orthodontics, we help families develop healthy, life-changing smiles using customized treatments, cutting-edge technologies, and caring relationships. Our individualized treatment plans help our patients achieve their perfect smile in the quickest, most painless way possible by utilizing a wide range of options from traditional braces to Propel accelerated treatment to Dr. Laster's in-house aligner program, Laster Perfect Smile. With three locations throughout the Triangle Area, we create life-changing smiles every day.