One of the most difficult adjustments (no pun intended) for teens and adults during the first week in braces is the change they will have to make to their diets.
Generally, your mouth will feel quite uncomfortable the first day you are in braces, so switching to a soft-food diet will be more of an instinct than an inconvenience. However, as the discomfort wanes it is still important to remain on a soft-food diet during your first week in braces. The bonding agent that the orthodontist uses to attach your brackets to the teeth needs a few days to solidify. Your brackets are especially susceptible to breakage during that first week.
In the first week, your mouth will still be adjusting to the brackets, hooks and wires in your mouth. As these rub on your gums, it will create discomfort and can sometimes cause abrasions to the softer skin in your cheeks. So in addition to a soft diet, avoid citrusy and spicy foods that might aggravate the pain from the abrasions. The orthodontist will provide you with wax that you can place over these tender areas to soothe them while they heal.
Foods to Avoid
As important as knowing what to eat during your first week in braces is knowing what foods to avoid.
Ice (You might be tempted to chew on ice to numb the pain in your mouth. Don’t! It will break your braces.)
Pizza crust (The hard crust can bend your wires)
Chips, hard crackers or pretzels (They can knock off your brackets)
Candy (Nothing hard, sticky or chewy)
Hard rolls and bagels (Bends wires and breaks brackets)
Nuts (Breaks wire, brackets and get stuck in the braces)
Popcorn (The little shells get stuck between the wires and your gums)
Crunchy raw vegetables and fruits
For some patients, the first few days create sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. For others, cold foods like frozen yogurt and ice cream will be soothing. If you discover that you have sensitivity, try more neutral options like applesauce, yogurt, jello, pudding, luke-warm soups and mashed potatoes for the first couple days.
Some other foods that you can eat during your first week of braces include
Shakes and smoothies
Fortunately, a variety of first-week meal plans are available online. Check out this Monday through Friday meal plan. It offers a complete plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack each day. Here is another menu plan to get you through the first week.
Really, anything that doesn’t require much pressure to chew should be fine during the first week. You will need to limit hard, sticky and crunchy foods throughout your time in braces, but after the first week you should be able to reintroduce more moderate foods like sandwiches into your diet.
Don’t Touch Them!
It is important to keep added pressure off your braces during the first week, and it goes beyond meals. When you have all this new metal and wire in your mouth, your natural instinct will be to want to make contact with it. Usually, this occurs by running your tongue or your lips repeatedly over the brackets. However, doing this will just irritate your gums and lips, making your mouth hurt worse for a longer time.
Sometimes, new braces-wearers also use their fingers to tug on the brackets or play with the wires (usually by bending them). This might due to a desire to alleviate the pressure on your teeth—but remember that’s precisely why you had them put on.
The pressure that the brackets and wires place on your teeth is what will move them to their permanent positions If you break a bracket or move the wire out of place, your teeth will not move correctly. This could substantially lengthen the time of the discomfort, and also treatment time overall.
Additionally, it is the best option to sleep on your back, if possible, during your first week in braces. Sleeping on your stomach or sides causes you to push your lips into the braces causing them to become sore or cut. It is best to wait until your lips are used to the friction from the brackets before applying too much direct pressure.
At Orthodontic Associates, our friendly experts can answer all the questions you might have about the first week of braces and beyond. Our teams at any one of our nine convenient locations around Baltimore will prepare you for every step of the process and will ensure that you are informed about how to care for your braces. We look forward to making you smile.