Video content from the American Association of Orthodontists

Common sense will guide you in choosing most of the foods you need to avoid or alter while you’re in orthodontic treatment. Simply stay away from anything that may break, bend, pull loose, or stick to any parts of your braces. You should also take steps to protect your teeth against decay and your gums against periodontal disease by avoiding high sugar content foods and drinks. Always use common sense and caution when eating the following foods.

Hard Foods

Hard foods may damage your braces by bending the wires, loosening the cement bonding material or breaking the brackets. Here are examples of the hard foods you should avoid or modify:

  • Carrots or celery – grate, cook, or cut into small pieces
  • Apples – cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Corn on the cob – cut off the cob
  • Chicken, ribs, etc. – cut meat off the bone
  • Do not eat nuts, pretzels, hard pizza crust, or chips.
  • Do not eat bread with hard crusts, such as French bread, hard rolls, or bagels.
  • You may have popcorn, but only the soft pieces from the top half of the bowl – never the hard, crunchy kernels on the bottom.
  • Absolutely no chewing on ice, pens, pencils, or fingernails!

Sticky Foods

Sticky foods can bend wires, loosen cement, and even pull brackets off your teeth! Do not eat:

  • Taffy
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Peanut brittle
  • Caramels
  • Candy apples
  • Licorice
  • Any sticky candy, such as Starburst or Now & Laters


Just like sticky foods, gum can bend your braces or pull off brackets, so don’t chew bubblegum or regular gum of any kind. If you must chew gum, please use sugarless gum only – one stick at a time.

Foods and Drinks High in Sugar Content

Whether you’re wearing braces or not, foods and beverages high in sugar content should be avoided. The bacteria that cause tooth decay, decalcification and gum disease live naturally in your mouth and use the sugars on your teeth to live. Sweets provide an extra food source for these bacteria to breed and produce the acids that damage your teeth and gums.

Most of the damage done by bacteria occurs within 30 minutes after eating, so brush your teeth immediately after each meal. Be especially careful to clean the area between orthodontic bands and gums.