Braces are delicate and easily damaged, so what you eat becomes especially important in caring for your braces. Chewing ice, for example, can really cause a lot of harm. Here are some examples of foods that should be avoided:
It is important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Even if some foods are hard and crunchy — an apple, for instance — you can cut them into small pieces. Also remember, unless you can brush immediately afterwards, sugary foods should be avoided.
The danger of soft drinks and orthodontic treatment
Soft drinks, including regular and diet soda pop, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, weaken tooth enamel. They are even harder on teeth with orthodontic “appliances,” such as braces or aligners. It is recommended that you avoid soft drinks during your orthodontic treatment so that your teeth stay healthy and strong, and you finish your treatment with a good bite and a healthy, beautiful smile.
Acid is the Culprit
Soft drinks contain acids. Acid pulls calcium out of the enamel, making the tooth soft to the touch. Acid dissolves tooth enamel, a process called “decalcification,” and can lead to cavities. Once enamel dissolves, it does not come back. The loss is permanent.
Acid + Sugar = Double Trouble!
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film made up of bacteria, food debris and saliva that constantly forms on your teeth. Plaque uses sugar and starches as food, and expels acid as a by-product, creating a stain on the surface of the tooth. If plaque is not removed regularly by brushing and flossing, the build-up can lead to decalcification, cavities, gum disease, and loss of the bone that holds teeth in place. Coupled with acid that is present in soft drinks, drinking liquids containing sugar doubles the risk to tooth enamel.
How Soft Drinks Affect Teeth
With braces, white marks like these on teeth are the result of decalcification, and are permanent. If you don’t remove the plaque that collects around brackets, between teeth and under the gums, decalcification can be evident within four months.
Your braces may cause some discomfort during the first few days of treatment and after some subsequent adjustments. There are several things you can do to minimize this problem. Eat soft foods for the first few days. Use a warm saltwater rinse, as needed. Consider taking over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as needed. Put wax over any problem areas.