Cooking for Braces

Young girl with braces eating ice cream

Your time in braces is filled with adjustments—and not just the kind that occur when the orthodontist tightens your archwire. You will need to make several lifestyle adjustments while you wear braces, one of the most notable being to your menu.

It is important to follow your orthodontist’s advice about what foods to avoid while you are in braces. Eating certain foods increases the likelihood of you breaking a wire or a bracket. Each time you do this, it will mean an additional trip to the office. It also can slow down your treatment time.

Foods to avoid while wearing braces include:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Croutons
  • French/Italian bread
  • Breads with small seeds or grains
  • Hard rolls
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Fruit that is difficult to bite into, e.g. apples
  • Corn on the cob
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Crunch chips or taco shells
  • Sticky and hard candy
  • Hard cookies or crackers
  • Gum
  • Ice
  • Sticky or hard chocolate
  • Tough or chewy meats
  • Meat off the bone

However, the good news is that there are a lot of foods that you can eat with braces and many websites that offer appetizing recipes. There are even cookbooks that are entirely filled with recipes designed for people wearing braces. So don’t worry about having a lack of food options during the treatment period.


stack of pancakes great for kids with braces
“pancakes” by Sean MacEntee by cc 2.0

Here are some suggested breakfast foods that are braces-friendly:

  • Yogurt
  • Muffins without nuts or chunks
  • Pancakes
  • Soft, ripe fruits like bananas
  • Milkshakes or smoothies
  • Waffles
  • Oatmeal
  • Soggy cereal
  • French toast
  • Eggs


Here are some ideas for packing lunch for a child wearing braces:

  • Sandwiches with soft bread (tear off the crust if necessary) and thin lunch meat
  • Apple sauce
  • Jello
  • Pudding
  • Soft cheeses like brie or cottage cheese, or any cheese thinly sliced
  • Chicken nuggets cut into small pieces
  • Smooth potato salad
  • Cole slaw
  • Tuna sandwiches
  • Egg salad
  • Salad without croutons or crunchy vegetables
  • Saltine crackers


Here are some ideas for the dinner plate for someone wearing braces:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Meatloaf
  • Meatballs
  • Cornbread or corn muffins
  • Soft tortillas
  • Pasta cooked until soft
  • Soft-cooked rice
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Soft cooked meat (barbecue meats tend to be easy to chew)
  • Crab cakes
  • Soft cooked vegetables such as squash
  • Beans


Fortunately, there are many desserts that are fine for people wearing braces. They include:

  • Cake
  • Ice cream
  • Cupcakes
  • Creampies
  • Soft pastries
  • Soft cookies without chunks

Beyond a general list of commonly non-approved and approved food items, you can turn to the Internet to get ideas for fun and appealing recipes to cook for someone in braces. Pinterest, for example, has tons of braces-friendly recipes from pumpkin cinnamon bread, cheesy potato soup and baked ravioli to Girl Scout Cookie pie.

Super Healthy Kids offers a week’s worth of meal plans for someone new to braces. A breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner option are outlined for each day. The site includes recipes for items such as homemade pudding, creamy polenta, chili, miso soup, grilled tofu, and homemade applesauce and smoothies. Another weekly menu plan for braces-wearers on this site offers recipes for entrees such as slow-cooked herb beef and gravy, lemon-dill baked cod, veggie bean soup with spinach and whole wheat blender pancakes.

How Do I Get Braces Cooking Done?

Make a list before going to the grocery store. Your list should include soft foods that you want to have handy in your home, as well as the ingredients for recipes you want to cook. You might have to schedule some additional time into your cooking routine to soften up your foods, so take that into account. Many soft foods and meals can be frozen, which would allow you to do most of your cooking for the week upfront.

Crockpot on a kitchen counterAlso remember that soft foods are just one component of caring for braces. You should make sure that you or your child follows all the orthodontist’s recommendations for caring for your teeth while in braces. You don’t want poor hygiene habits to undermine all the work you are doing to eat foods that won’t harm your treatment.

Overall, look at this experience as an opportunity to branch out and try new recipes. Some things to consider when preparing your menu items:

  • Cut/tear crunchy (especially vegetables, fruits and crusty breads) or chewy foods into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
  • Try to avoid spicy foods and citrus fruits for the period right after the braces are fitted while the cheeks and gums adjust.
  • A crock pot can be extremely useful in making braces-friendly meals.
  • Try tofu as a meat substitute.
  • If you are getting tired of the “same old,” try a different variety of the same item (like brie instead of gouda).
  • If you are fond of nuts and seeds, try them as spreads (when possible) or ground up. There is less chance of damaging brackets or bending archwires that way.
  • Set up a “candy fund.” Every time you have a craving, put a dollar in a jar. When you get your braces off, treat yourself to whatever you like.
  • Look for recipes or cookbooks that suit your new temporary lifestyle. They might end up making it onto your menu when you get the braces off!

Our friendly and experienced staff at Orthodontic Associates will provide you with this and much more information to help make your time in braces the best (and quickest) experience possible. Choose from one of our 9 convenient locations around Baltimore and set up your initial consultation. We look forward to making you smile.


Comment on "Cooking for Braces"

  1. Stephanie

    Can we have chili

  2. Alisha Ross

    I made this for dinner tonight and omg is this INCREDIBLE. I subbed the chicken broth for veggie broth to make it vegetarian and I am sure it tastes just as good — if not better! I am definitely saving this and making it again. And again. Thanks for the post!!!

  3. Rose Martine

    Wow! Thank you! I constantly wanted to write on my site something like that. Can I take a portion of your post to my website?

  4. Rubi Kaur

    I have stuffed chicken breast before, with feta cheese and arugula or something like this. And my Family was indeed impressed The Caprese combo sounds pretty amazing!

  5. Rubi Kaur

    I think the size of chicken breasts has changed dramatically since Julia Child’s day, which could account for some of her shorter cook time.

  6. Hannah Flack

    Love this recipe! We use it quite often. I double the carrots and celery and add minced onion flakes to it and use Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice. After a couple hours check it to see if it needs a little bit more water added.

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