Cheese sticks can be eaten in moderation with braces, but there are some important factors to consider:
– Soft cheeses like mozzarella used in cheese sticks tend to get stuck in braces more easily than hard cheeses.
– Cheese sticks provide calcium which is beneficial for tooth and bone health, but they lack other nutrients found in dairy products like yogurt.
– Cheese sticks should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Relying too heavily on any one food while wearing braces increases the risk of tooth decay.
– It’s a good idea to rinse with water or brush after eating cheese sticks to remove any food debris caught in braces.
How Braces Impact Your Diet
Getting braces means paying more attention to your diet and oral hygiene routine. The brackets and wires make areas around the teeth more difficult to clean. Any food particles left stuck in braces put you at higher risk for cavities, discolored teeth, and bad breath.
Orthodontists recommend avoiding sticky, chewy, crunchy, and hard foods since they can damage braces and lengthen treatment time. Foods like caramel, gum, nuts, seeds, popcorn, and hard candies pose the biggest issues.
On the other hand, softer foods that are easy to chew and swallow such as dairy, eggs, pasta, fish, poultry, steamed vegetables, beans, smoothies, mashed potatoes, or soup are better choices.
Benefits of Dairy with Braces
Dairy products play an important role in an orthodontic-friendly diet because they provide key nutrients for oral health:
– **Calcium:** Helps build strong bones and teeth. Cheese is one of the best sources of calcium.
– **Protein:** Necessary for repairing and maintaining tissues in the mouth. Cheese provides protein.
– **Phosphorus:** Works with calcium to mineralize tooth enamel. Found in dairy foods like cheese.
– **Vitamin D:** Allows the body to absorb calcium. Added to many fortified dairy products.
Concerns About Cheese and Braces
While dairy is an important food group for braces wearers, certain types of cheeses should be minimized or avoided altogether.
Cheese sticks made with soft, sticky cheeses like mozzarella can be particularly problematic. The cheese sticks can adhere to braces, increasing plaque buildup. Pieces may break off and get stuck in between wires and teeth.
Hard cheeses like cheddar, swiss, and gouda tend to be lower risk for braces because they do not stick as easily. But all cheeses should be consumed carefully with braces, in moderation.
Even after taking precautions, residual cheese left in the mouth after eating can continue to interact with braces and oral tissue. Rinsing thoroughly with water and proper brushing is critical after consuming any dairy products.
Are Cheese Sticks a Healthy Snack for Braces?
When evaluating snack options for braces, it’s important to look at how a food impacts oral health, nutrient value, and digestion:
– Soft, sticky consistency can adhere to braces
– Higher carbohydrate content promotes cavity-causing bacteria
– Requires thorough cleaning after eating
– Provides protein and calcium
– Lacks compounds like probiotics found in other dairy
– Often highly processed and high in saturated fat
– Easy to chew and swallow
– Portable and self-contained
– High sodium content may increase thirst
Compared to alternatives like yogurt, cottage cheese, fruits, and vegetables, cheese sticks are not an ideal choice due to oral health drawbacks. But they can be worked into an orthodontic diet in moderation.
Tips for Eating Cheese Sticks with Braces
If you do choose to eat cheese sticks, follow these tips to reduce risks:
– Take small bites, chew thoroughly before swallowing to prevent large pieces breaking off
– Use a napkin or paper towel to dab and wipe mouth frequently while eating
– Rinse mouth with water after eating to wash away debris
– Brush and floss carefully after eating to clean braces
– Swish with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash to remove bacteria
– Avoid excessive snacking throughout the day to limit exposure
– Monitor for any damage or issues and avoid cheese sticks if problems occur
Precautions When Buying Cheese Sticks
Read labels carefully and aim for cheese sticks with:
– Lower sodium and saturated fat
– No added sugars or corn syrup
– Real cheese, not “cheese product”
– Probiotics like active cultures
– Allergen-free if needed for your diet
Steer clear of extra flavorings like pepperoni or ranch dressing which can further adhere to braces.
Healthier Braces-Friendly Snacks
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up, consider one of these lower-risk snacks over cheese sticks:
Dairy and Dairy Alternatives
– Cottage cheese
– Nut milks (almond, soy, coconut)
Fruits and Vegetables
– Sliced apples, pears, stone fruits
– Mashed banana
– Cooked carrots, squash, peas
– Fresh vegetable sticks
– Rice cakes
– Air-popped popcorn
– Hard boiled egg
– Hummus and soft pita
– Nut butter with soft fruit
– Bean dip with pretzels or tortillas
Meal Ideas with Cheese You Can Eat with Braces
While cheese sticks themselves may pose oral health risks, other forms of cheese can be part of a braces-friendly diet. Here are some nutritious meal ideas featuring cheese:
– Omelet with cheddar cheese
– Yogurt parfait with berries and pecans
– Whole grain waffle with ricotta cheese and apple slices
– Grilled cheese sandwich on soft bread with tomato soup
– Salad with grilled chicken, feta cheese, and balsamic dressing
– Quesadilla on a whole wheat tortilla with peppers and salsa
– Baked ziti with mozzarella cheese
– Tacos with ground turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese
– Pizza with thin whole wheat crust, vegetable toppings, and part-skim mozzarella
– Cottage cheese with fruit
– String cheese with whole grain crackers
– Smoothie with milk, yogurt, and nut butter
Oral Hygiene Routine for Braces
Proper oral hygiene is critical when eating foods like cheese sticks with braces. Follow these tips to keep teeth clean:
– Brush teeth and braces thoroughly after each meal and snack
– Floss carefully between wires and teeth to remove particles
– Rinse mouth with water after eating sticky foods
– Use an antibacterial mouthwash daily to kill cavity-causing bacteria
– Visit the orthodontist regularly for professional cleanings
Notify your orthodontist immediately if you experience any pain, swelling, damage, or loose brackets so they can assess any issues.
Cheese sticks are not the ideal snack choice with braces due to their sticky texture that can adhere to orthodontic appliances. But when consumed carefully in moderation as part of a balanced diet, the calcium and protein in cheese can benefit those wearing braces. Take precautions when eating cheese sticks like rinsing after eating, brushing well, and choosing healthier versions lower in sodium and fat. Focus on eating a wide variety of nutritious foods instead of snacking too frequently. Proper oral hygiene is essential for minimizing risks of dental issues with braces. With the right dietary and cleaning precautions, an occasional cheese stick can be permissible during orthodontic treatment.