Happy National Nutrition Month!
While we believe healthy nutrition should be celebrated every month, this is a great time to discuss how good nutrition can keep your mouth healthy and able to do it everything it’s meant to.
Your mouth does much more for you than you might think. It contains an elaborate system of teeth, salivary glands, and a tongue that all play a very important role in your health.
The mouth is the first stop in the digestive process, and one of the most important, too.
Your teeth, saliva, tongue and cheeks all work together to ensure your food is broken down properly, making it easy for the rest of your digestive system to process your food and distribute nutrients.
A healthy mouth can also help out your immune system. That’s a big job, considering your mouth is the gateway to your digestive and respiratory system.
Saliva helps wash away bad bacteria before it can reach either of these systems, which help keep you from getting sick.
Without taking care of your mouth, the opposite can occur, and a buildup of bacteria could end up making you ill. It can even lead to things like heart disease or pneumonia.
The best ways to stay on top of your oral health are to visit a dentist regularly, keep a consistent oral hygiene routine, and you guessed it…eat healthy foods.
We know that can be a wee bit more difficult with braces. That giant scoop of ice cream sounds like it would feel nice on sore gums (not to mention how tasty it is!)
There are certain foods that you should avoid when you have braces. Things that are too hard or crunchy can damage your braces, and chewy foods can get stuck in brackets and wires and cause bacterial build up.
While it’s important to avoid things like crunchy junk foods and chewy or hard candies with braces, replacement snacks don’t have to be boring. Healthy snacks that are good for your braces can be just as satisfying to eat with braces — maybe even more so when you know your special treat is also good for your whole body, too!
We’ve collected some of our favorite treats and snacks to recommend for braces that will help keep your teeth as shiny, strong, and bacteria-free as ever.
Avoid: Crunchy Fruits
As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you got til’ it’s gone.”
Maybe you didn’t realize you’d be craving a big, juicy apple until it’s right in front of you, and you can’t have it because of your braces.
Don’t give in to the temptation: Hard and crunchy fruits can bend wires and even break brackets. They could also call for an extra orthodontist appointment to do adjustments and repairs.
Replace with: Soft Fruit
You can still get the sweet, healthy satisfaction of eating fruit by sticking to softer choices like bananas or berries.
You can also go for a tooth-friendly smoothie to really get the satisfaction of a sweet treat. A smoothie is especially handy to make when you’ve just gotten braces or have just had them adjusted.
Add these healthy and tasty foods your smoothie-making shopping list:
- Berries are a great go-to for low-sugar fruits that have the benefits of vitamin C.
- Apples, pears and bananas are some of the other best fruit for your teeth.
- Green tea is full of antioxidants to help keep your mouth and body clean by flushing toxins.
- The polyphenols it contains also help break up bad bacteria.
- Greek yogurt is flavorful, low in sugar, and packed with teeth-strengthening cal-cium and phosphates.
- Coconut oil acts as an antibacterial which helps prevent plaque and infections.
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with nutrients that help improve oral health.
- They have calcium for strengthening teeth as well as folic acid and vitamin B to help keep gums clean and inflammation-free.
Once you have all the ingredients, simply blend them with a cup of ice or half a cup of water, and you’re all set for one satisfying snack.
Avoid: Chips and Crackers
Chips and crackers have a crunchy texture that can cause them to get caught in your braces and potentially damage them.
On top of that, both of these foods are high in starches. And much like sugar, starches can create a build-up of bacteria that creates plaque.
Plaque eats away at the protective outer layer of the tooth, and can cause tooth decay.
Replace with: Oatcakes
Oatcakes are tasty little treats that are easy to find (or make).
They have a texture that’s easy to chew without the crunchy pieces that can get stuck in your wires and cause bracket damage. And they’re healthier for you, too!
Whole grains are high in fiber, which means eating them can help clean and strengthen your teeth and gums. And without the starchiness of chips and crackers, you have even more of a reason to make the switch!
When you make your own oatcakes you can adjust the texture to your needs at the time. If you’re earlier in the process, you might want to make them nice and soft.
To make your own oatcakes, you’ll need:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While you wait, blend the steel-cut oats in a food processor until they reach a flour-like consistency.
- Add the rolled oats and continue to blend.
- Mix together the blended oats, salt and melted butter in a bowl.
- Stir the butter into the mixture, then add water and knead the dough until it no longer feels sticky.
- Form the dough into a ball, and roll it out on a floured surface to avoid sticking.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into the desired shapes.
- Place the oatcakes on a baking tray and bake for 15-25 minutes.
Avoid: Sticky and Chewy Candy
Your orthodontist likely made this one very clear. Foods like gum, caramels, even gummy bears can be a nightmare for braces.
The sugars easily get stuck in hard or impossible to reach places in the mouth, and trying to get sticky stuff off your brackets can cause you to do more harm than good.
Resist the urge to eat that Starburst, because there are plenty of other tasty treats that won’t put your oral health at risk.
Replace with: Frozen Yogurt
Like a smoothie, frozen yogurt can help soothe your teeth and gums if they’re sore from a recent adjustment. The calcium in frozen yogurt also helps strengthen your teeth!
The next time you have a sweet tooth that just can’t be contained, try this healthy and easy frozen yogurt recipe.
All you’ll need to do is combine 3 cups frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons of honey, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a food processor.
The best part? You can store it in your freezer for up to one month!
But Wait, There’s More
There you have it. There are plenty of healthy and delicious replacements for the foods you can’t have with braces. Get started on your new, healthy life with braces by trying a few of these out on your next food prep day.
Your body (and your teeth) will thank you!
But it’s important to remember that while eating food that’s nutritious and safe for your braces is a great start, it’s not the only important part of keeping your teeth clean and strong!
You’ll also want to make sure you have the perfect dental hygiene routine. We’ve got you covered on that, too.
Take a peek at 4 easy and effective ways to keep your teeth clean with braces »