Bracing For a Thanksgiving Meal

Girl with braces holding a pie on Thanksgiving.

You’ve read all the literature. Your orthodontist has drummed it into your head. The list of things you can and can’t (well, shouldn’t) eat while you are wearing your braces. The “traditional” braces at least. Invisalign folks get to eat with reckless abandon.

As Thanksgiving approaches, with the feast it traditionally brings, you may be wondering if you can try everything on the table or if you will have to steer clear of Aunty Susan’s nut-filled stuffing.

So to help you avoid all the tasty landmines that can derail your Thanksgiving cheer, we have talked to Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist Lindy Layden, who has given us her take on the proper plate for those wearing braces.  

“From an oral health perspective, limit the high sugar foods—especially the ones that can get stuck in the braces and are trapped against the teeth for long periods of time which can lead to decay, caries or provide any bacteria a breeding ground for decalcification of the enamel and those unsightly white spots.”

“From a strictly nutritional perspective, there aren’t any real restrictions. I would ordinarily advocate for moderation, but this isn’t really a holiday where that advice would be taken. Of course, your orthodontist might have some restrictions. No corn or nuts, and the sticky foods that we mentioned earlier. Plus stay away from dried cranberries or raisins.”  

Here are some of the old standbys that you can and should enjoy:

  • Ham or turkey (cut into small pieces)
  • Stuffing
  • Steamed (softened) vegetables
  • Salads (even potato, but NO nuts!)
  • Corn (but make sure it is OFF the Cob)
  • Potatoes (mashed and sweet)
  • Cornbread
  • Green beans
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Pie
    • Sweet Potato
    • Pumpkin
    • Apple
  • Ice Cream (or a la mode)

Some of the foods to skip:

  • Raw vegetables or fruit (apples, carrots)
  • Meat (turkey, ham, turducken, chicken, lamb) that is still attached to the bone
  • Corn on the cob
  • Nuts (in anything)
  • Pies or desserts with crunchy crusts or super-sticky fillings
    • Pecan pie
    • Apple crumble
    • Caramel apples

“If you just had your braces put on, and you are experiencing discomfort, stick to the soft foods on offer. Turkey (because you almost have to) also cut into smaller bites, stuffing, well-cooked vegetables, mashed potatoes, soft breads (rolls) and finish it off with a big slice of pumpkin pie.”

“And finally, don’t skip on the post-meal brush and opt for a stick of gum.”

So this Thanksgiving, there is no need to hide from the feast. Just keep an eye on some of the ingredients and enjoy!


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