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Are you new to wearing braces or Invisalign®? The New Year is a good time to brush up on the do’s and don’ts of life with braces or with the Invisalign appliance. If your New Year’s resolutions include upping the ante on healthy routines, diligent care of your braces or Invisalign aligner is part of the package.

The orthodontists at Okuda & Noorda Orthodontics want to share some of their best braces tips and tricks for:

  • Foods to Eat with Braces
  • What Not to Eat with Braces
  • How to Brush With Braces
  • Flossing With Braces

For our clients who use Invisalign, we’ll also briefly talk about some advantages of Invisalign compared to life with braces.

Foods To Eat With Braces

Someday soon, you’ll live a braces-free life. You’ll enjoy an attractive, straight smile. You’ll eat and drink whatever you want (in moderation, of course)! Right now, however, living with braces means taking exceptional care of them — and knowing what foods to eat with braces will help you ace your 2021 orthodontic care resolutions and get the best braces results.

Dr. Okuda has great news for our Henderson patients when it comes to foods to eat with braces: you can eat almost anything. Since there are different parts of braces, including brackets and wires, just make sure what you eat won’t break your hardware and is nutritious. Eating foods that are safe for your braces means no delays in treatment, and healthy food minimizes bacteria and plaque build-up.

As mentioned in our holiday post of 2020, softer foods are ideal. Softer foods are easier to chew, break down easier with your saliva, and, if they get stuck in parts of braces, they’re easier to get out. Healthwise, the best foods to eat with braces are also ones that are lower in sugar. Foods high in sugar encourage bacteria and plaque — especially in those nooks and crannies around your braces. (We know, we know… you can’t be sugar-free all the time. So if you do happen to eat more sugar than you should, we talk about how to effectively brush with braces later in this post.) 

Some safer foods to eat with braces include:

  • Bread, Rice, Pasta
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Soup
  • Cheese
  • Pancakes and Waffles
  • Steamed or Soft Veggies
  • Soft Fruits
  • Smoothies

What Not to Eat With Braces 

Let’s talk about what not to eat with braces. Hard or crunchy foods are a hard pass. Ditto for sticky or chewy foods. Hard or crunchy foods can break or damage the wires on your braces, causing a delay in your treatment and adding extra cost. We know you’re dying to see your new smile as soon as possible! As for sticky and chewy foods, these can get stuck in your braces easily and are difficult to get out. 

Here are some foods to avoid with braces:

  • Nuts & Pretzels
  • Chips & Popcorn
  • Candy (both gummies and hard ones)
  • Hard-to-Eat Veggies and Fruit (eg. raw carrots, corn on the cob, apples)
  • Gum

You should also avoid foods that can stain teeth, like beets, dark berries, or grape juice. 

What About Eating with Invisalign?

If you have Invisalign aligners, the rules about eating are a bit different than when living with braces. One of the advantages of Invisalign is you don’t have to worry about breaking the aligner with what you eat because you take it out when eating. However, we still highly recommend you eat healthy — for your best oral and physical health! After you eat, it’s easier to brush and floss your teeth than with braces since there are no wires or brackets to maneuver around.

Things to remember about eating and drinking with Invisalign:

  • Take out your Invisalign aligners when you eat.
  • Rinse your aligners after you take them out and before you put them back in your mouth. This helps wash off the bacteria or debris that was there before.
  • Put your Invisalign aligners right back in after eating. Wear your Invisalign for about 22 hours a day to get the best outcome.
  • Eat dyed or colored foods sparingly. Foods like beets can stain your Invisalign if you’re not cleaning it properly.
  • Don’t drink sugary drinks with your Invisalign in. Water is okay.

How to Floss with Braces

Let’s move on to good oral hygiene when living with braces, starting with flossing. Good rule of thumb? Floss with braces at least once a day. Some studies suggest that flossing before brushing is the best order. One, because flossing first can be more effective for removing plaque. Two, flossing before brushing was found to increase fluoride delivery from your toothpaste.

Flossing with braces seems tricky but it doesn’t have to be. This year, resolve to get better at how you floss with braces. Give yourself 10-15 minutes for flossing and use a mirror:

  • Thread the floss between the wire and your teeth.
  • Hold floss in an upside down U-shape with your index fingers and thumbs for your top teeth (and a regular U-shape for the bottom teeth).
  • Gently floss up to the gumline, then back down between two teeth.
  • Pull out the floss.
  • Repeat between each pair of teeth. 

If you are not the type of person to spend the extra time flossing every day, Dr. Okuda recommends a water flosser such as a Waterpik. These devices are clinically proven to be as effective as flossing.  Dr. Okuda notices significantly better gum health in his patients that use a water flosser vs. his patients that do not. Just don’t be too alarmed at water spraying all over the bathroom the first time you use your water flosser. You’ll quickly get the hang of it! 

How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces

Your Henderson orthodontist Dr. Okuda has several helpful tips for how to brush your teeth with braces:

  1. Brush in the morning and night, after meals and snacks.
  2. Use a soft toothbrush, electric or sonic toothbrush.
  3. Use an interdental brush to clean out food debris if your toothbrush isn’t handy.
  4. Focus around the gums and under the wires as these are spots that are commonly missed when braces are on the teeth.
  5. Rinse your mouth with water if you can’t brush immediately after eating.

Give yourself extra time so you can carefully brush all of the parts of braces, and your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water.

Extra Tools for Brushing with Braces:

The American Association of Orthodontists lists some extra tools for better oral cleaning when living with braces. Ask your Henderson orthodontists at Okuda Orthodontics about which of these will be the best braces extras for you:

  • Interdental Brush
  • Water Irrigator (also known as a Waterpik or water flosser)
  • Fluoride Mouth Rinse

Life With Braces in 2021

This new year is a new chance to remind yourself what foods to eat with braces and what not to eat. Living with braces also means honing your brushing and flossing techniques and taking the time to do it right, so you get the best braces results possible.

We at Okuda Orthodontics wish you all the best in your orthodontic care for 2021. Let us know how we can help you look after your braces or Invisalign this year. We’ll see you at your next appointment. If you’re not a patient yet and getting a stunning smile is on your to-do list for 2021, schedule a complimentary in-person or virtual consultation with Dr. Brady Okuda today! 

Dr. Okuda

Author Dr. Okuda

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