Easter generally seems a time where we feel free to indulge in lots of chocolate and sweet food. However, if you have braces, you may want to be careful about which treats and dishes you choose to indulge in.
Celebrations happen throughout the year – children’s birthdays, Halloween and Christmas can all tempt you to eat sticky sweets, but be warned – these types of sweets can lead to costly damage to orthodontic appliances.
“We see a spike in the number of appliances we repair in our patients where sweets are involved,” says Dr. Lutz Bachmann, a kid’s orthodontist who also provides orthodontics for adults. “Hopefully by informing our patients, we can help reduce the risk of damage during the festive times like Christmas and Easter.”
First off, sweets or lollies aren’t good for your teeth or your orthodontic appliances. Sweets are mostly comprised of sugar, which if left in contact with teeth, can cause decay. Another issue with sweets is their texture. Hard or tacky sweets pose several threats to orthodontics. However, if you must satisfy your sweet tooth, adhere to the following guidelines.
Avoid tacky sweets…
The suction created by taffy, gummies, and caramels have the potential to pull wires from tubes and dislodge brackets. Also, their gooey texture allows them to find their way into every nook and cranny of teeth and appliances.
“Once these sweets have found their way into crevices, their removal can be incredibly tricky,” says Dr. Lutz. “Sugary sweets that are allowed to remain on the surface of teeth can cause irreversible decay.”
And hard sweets
Lollipops, jawbreakers and other hard sweets must be avoided. Any sweet that is hard or contains something hard such as nuts can bend wires and break or dislodge brackets.
While it’s true that sucking on a piece or hard sweet is not as harmful to orthodontics as chewing it is. The sucking is also harmful to your teeth because they are exposed to sugar for longer. Therefore, we recommend sucking on sugar-free lollipops and sweets to avoid tooth decay.
“Patients who don’t plan on chewing a hard sweet still need to avoid it,” warns Dr. Claudia Bachmann, who is also an Invisalign Teen specialist. “Even with good intentions, it often is too easy to give in to the natural urge to bite down on it.
While no sweets are safe for teeth, there are some that are safer than others for patients with braces.
Soft (non-sticky) sweets
Easter sweets have their upside as plain chocolate that has a soft texture and melt in your mouth are the safest to consume. They are not sturdy enough to damage orthodontics, but can still be damaging to teeth. So make sure you brush your teeth well after consuming sweets. Patients fitted with traditional or Incognito braces should use an interdental toothbrush to make sure all the decay-contributing residue is removed from under and around brackets and wires.
“We know it can be hard for children to give up their goodies,” says Dr. Lutz. “We suggest that parents try to barter sweets in favour of a toy or a trip to the movies.”
The upcoming Easter holiday also centers on family gatherings and feasting.
“All of the traditional family dishes that could be consumed last year, may not be safe this year if you are now being treated with orthodontics,” says Dr. Claudia.
In conjunction with the previous sweets guidelines, the following guidelines should be adhered to:
Remove meat from the bone
Any meat on the bone, or corn on the cob should be removed before eating it. Braces encounter too much friction by having to rake across the bone or cob when trying to remove the food. As long as the food is tender it’s safe to eat once removed.
Foods that crunch need to be cut
Most foods, be it fruit, vegetable or nut, that crunch and are eaten in large pieces can damage orthodontics. Please make sure you slice an apple, pear and carrots as it is still healthy to eat them.
Avoid “mystery” ingredients
Don’t consume any dishes if you don’t know what they contain. Some dishes may unknowingly contain ingredients that are hard, chewy and unsafe to consume. Even soft ice cream can contain hard nuts or pieces of fruit or chocolate that are hard when they are cold. If you aren’t sure, it’s best not to take the risk and avoid an unnecessary setback.
“Don’t allow your orthodontic treatment to damper your Easter holiday spirits,” says Dr. Claudia. “Many foods can be softened with liquid, sliced thinly, or boiled to give them a safe texture.”
Succumbing to temptation can add months to your treatment time if you break or damage your appliances. But if this happens, contact your orthodontist promptly to find out if it’s something that requires immediate attention.