Boy smiling with braces holding a burger

Best foods to eat with braces & cooking tips

Give up gummy bears? Put away the popcorn? No more nuts?

If you’re thinking about getting braces or have already made the decision to improve your smile (kudos to you!), you likely have concerns about what foods you can and can’t eat.

Good news: there are tons of foods that are “braces-friendly” that you can still eat and enjoy throughout your orthodontic treatment. And yes, there are some foods that you will need to avoid as well. But isn’t having a healthy, confident smile worth temporarily giving up a few of your favorites? Most of our patients would say that it absolutely is.

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to learn what you can eat and drink with braces, some cooking tips, and what you can look forward to eating again once your treatment is complete (Laffy Taffy, anyone?).

When you first get braces

Like any other adjustment in life, the first few days are the toughest. Getting braces means your mouth will likely be sensitive in the days following your initial appointment, which is why soft foods are best for you in the beginning. When in doubt, anything that’s easy to chew is a great choice – hello mac n’ cheese!

Some ideal foods to eat right after getting braces (and for the rest of your treatment) include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soups
  • Pasta
  • Seafood
  • Soft vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft cheeses
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt

There are several “safe” foods that are fine to enjoy during treatment but may cause sensitivity in the first few days. Some foods to avoid when experiencing tooth sensitivity include:

  • Ice cream (brrrr!)
  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Chewy bread or rolls (cut into small pieces)
  • Chewy cuts of meat (cut into small pieces)

Thankfully, you’ll be able to enjoy these foods again as soon as your teeth adjust to having braces.

Foods to ban with braces

Let’s get the not-so-fun part out of the way now! In an ideal world, you would be able to eat and drink anything you want with braces. But there are certain foods that you’ll have to bid farewell to during treatment – namely anything that’s hard or sticky. These foods can damage your wires or bands or even cause a bracket to separate from a tooth.

Some foods to completely avoid with braces include:

  • Hard candy
  • Sticky candy such as jellybeans or taffy
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard pretzels or chips
  • Crunchy vegetables or fruits
  • Pizza crust
  • Bagels or hard rolls
  • Ice

Best foods for your (soon-to-be) brilliant smile 

There are so many great foods that you can still eat with braces that you may not even miss the others! The American Association of Orthodontists encourages you to enjoy a variety of healthy and easy-to-chew foods during orthodontic treatment.

In addition to the foods that you can eat right after you get braces, a more complete list of some ideal foods for braces include:


  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Pudding
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Ice Cream

Breads and Grains:

  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Muffins (without nuts)
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Cooked rice

Meats and Proteins:

  • Shredded Chicken
  • Meatloaf
  • Meatballs
  • Lunchmeat
  • Fish
  • Eggs

Fruits & Vegetables:

  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Watermelon
  • Grapes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Cooked beans
  • Steamed vegetables


  • Casseroles
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Jello
  • Soups
  • Grilled cheese

And that’s just for starters! We encourage you to look at this experience as an ideal time to branch out and try different foods. Who knows, you might end up finding some new recipes that stay on your menu long after your braces come off.

Cooking and food prep tips

Our best advice for cooking is quite simple: keep it soft. Soft-cooked meats, rice, potatoes, and vegetables are all safe to enjoy with braces. A crockpot or instant pot can be extremely helpful when making braces-friendly meals. You should also:

  • Cut sandwiches and any crunchy fruits, vegetables, or bread into bite-sized pieces
  • Cut the crust off a slice of pizza before eating it (be sure to use your back teeth when you chew)
  • Never eat meat off the bone

Don’t forget drinks

Smoothies and healthy shakes are also great alternatives for people with braces. Be sure to limit your consumption of sugary drinks such as soda, juice, and sports drinks. When sugar mixes with saliva, it creates a sticky film that coats the teeth (also known as plaque). Brushing your teeth can remove plaque, but that becomes harder to do with braces – putting you at higher risk for tooth decay and cavities. Tap water and milk are always the best beverage choices for braces.

I want candy

Perhaps this is the best news of all – even though hard and sticky candies must be avoided, there are some types of candy that you can still eat while wearing braces. (Let’s admit it, we all need a chocolate fix every now and then!)

Some sweet treats that you can enjoy in moderation include:

  • Chocolate (without caramel or nuts)
  • Peanut butter cups
  • 3 Musketeers and Kit Kat bars
  • Marshmallows
  • Soft cookies

Care for your braces and for you

The Great River Orthodontics team is here to support you through every step of your orthodontic treatment. Learn more about our care and maintenance tips, or call us with any questions about your braces or Invisalign clear aligners. Working together, we’ll ensure that your treatment goes smoothly from start to finish.