Wearing dental braces has many benefits - chewing properly among them. This is an often overlooked and underappreciated change after braces. Why? When teeth do not fit together correctly, you simply cannot chew food as you should. What can happen when you don’t chew well? In two words: poor digestion. Because the process of digestion begins in the mouth, the importance of chewing correctly becomes immediately apparent. Thoroughly chewing your food helps your body to break down large chunks into smaller, easier to digest morsels. This allows the body to extract the maximum amount of vitamins, minerals, and fibre from each meal. After braces, you might even savour foods more as the flavours are released by proper chewing.
How to Chew After Braces
In the first few weeks after braces, chewing can be challenging. After braces your teeth don’t touch the way they did before, therefore, you may have to change the way you chew. What are some things you can do to help make things better after braces?
- Bite with the side of your mouth. It may be very difficult to bite at first with your front teeth
- Slow down. Chew slowly and carefully and remember to take smaller bites
- Stick to soft food- especially in the early going. Before long you’ll be eating steak again
Foods to Avoid After Braces
Chewing properly after braces doesn’t mean being reckless and chewing with abandon. There are some things which you should avoid eating after braces because you could damage them. Among things to avoid are chewy, sticky sweets or hard, crunchy foods. Also, eating too many sugary or starchy foods is not recommended as this invites dangerous plaque to build up around the brackets. When that happens, staining of the teeth occurs causing cavities, or worse, gum disease. Specific foods to avoid include dried fruits, caramel, taffy, chewing gum, and corn on the cob-- to name just a few culprits. All of these foods can stick to the braces, are hard to remove and can cause problems. Hard foods are also a no-no. Foods such as nuts, ice, popcorn and beef jerky can break the wires of the braces and loosen the brackets.
Not Just Solid Foods Are Problematic
Some otherwise healthy foods which we don’t often think about can be problematic as they can damage the supports. Such foods include raw apples and carrots, and crusty rolls or bread. If you find it hard to give these up, at least cut them into small, bite-size morsels. Though a food like spaghetti is soft, its longer strands can wind around the brackets. Ditto for stringy foods like melted mozzarella cheese. So, slice them into smaller pieces. There is something else on the list of things to avoid. If chewing habits include biting your fingernails or gnawing on your pen or pencil- forget it- they’re out, as well. Often we can get so concerned about what we chew that we often forget about what we drink. Fizzy, sugary beverages such as sodas and natural fruit juices should be avoided after braces because they’re acidic as well as sweet. If you can’t abide this, at least use a straw. Heeding the advice above after braces will ensure a more healthy life.