Are chips okay to eat with braces?

Having braces can make eating certain foods more difficult. One food that brace wearers often wonder about is chips. Are chips okay to eat with braces? The short answer is yes, chips are generally fine to eat with braces as long as you take the right precautions.

Can you eat chips with braces?

Yes, you can eat chips with braces. However, you need to be careful when eating chips with braces for a few reasons:

  • Chips can get stuck in braces – The nooks and crannies of braces provide places for pieces of chip to become trapped. This can be annoying and uncomfortable.
  • Chips can break braces – Hard, crunchy chips can potentially damage or break brackets or wires.
  • Chips can injure you – Sharp chip edges or points can scrape or cut your lips, cheeks or gums.

So while you can eat chips with braces, you need to do so cautiously. Certain types of chips may be safer and lower risk.

Which chips are best for braces?

Not all chips are created equal when you have braces. Some varieties are gentler on your orthodontic hardware than others. The best chips to eat with braces include:

  • Soft corn tortilla chips – The softer texture of corn tortilla chips makes them less likely to damage braces. Just be sure to chew thoroughly with your back teeth.
  • Puffed chips – Airy, puffed chips like cheese puffs or potato puffs crumble easily and are less abrasive.
  • Kettle cooked chips – Kettle chips have a lighter crunch than regular chips making them a safer option.
  • Smaller chips or crisps – Mini versions of potato chips, tortilla chips or pita chips have less hard surface area to potentially hurt your braces.

Some good brands to try are Food Should Taste Good, Terra, and Popchips. You’ll still need to be cautious, but these types of chips pose a lower threat to braces.

What chips should you avoid with braces?

On the flip side, there are certain chips that tend to be more problematic for those wearing braces. Steer clear of these chip varieties if possible:

  • Hard corn chips – The thick hardness of traditional corn chips makes them a high risk for braces damage.
  • Thick potato chips – Heavily crunchy kettle chips or rippled chips can wreak havoc on your orthodontia.
  • Crunchy vegetable chips – Chips made from vegetables like kale or carrots are meant to have extra crunch.
  • Crackers – Though technically not chips, hard crackers have a similar effect as thick, crispy chips.

Popular chip brands that may be too hard for braces include Frito-Lay, Doritos, Pringles, and Ruffles. Being cautious with chips like these helps avoid broken wires, loose brackets, and injured soft tissues.

Tips for eating chips with braces

If you want to eat chips during your brace treatment, keep these tips in mind:

  • Break it up first – Crush chips into smaller pieces before eating to decrease hardness.
  • Chew carefully – Use your back molars and chew slowly to prevent chip pieces from sticking in your braces.
  • Swish water after eating – Rinse your mouth to help clear any food debris.
  • Remove stuck chips ASAP – If a chip gets lodged in your braces, get it out quickly to avoid pain or damage.
  • Avoid hard or sharp edges – Try to only eat the softer middles of chip pieces to protect your mouth.

Exercising caution when crunching on chips can allow you to eat them safely during orthodontic treatment.

Are chips ever completely off-limits with braces?

Are there times when chips should be completely avoided when you have braces? A few instances where it’s best to forego chips entirely include:

  • Right after getting braces tightened – Teeth are most tender then.
  • When braces are first installed – Your mouth needs time to adjust.
  • If your orthodontist says no chips – Follow expert advice.
  • When eating chips causes pain – Listen to what your mouth is telling you.
  • If you repeatedly get chips stuck – Some mouths and braces may not mesh with chips.

For some patients and at certain times during treatment, abstaining from chips altogether helps prevent potential problems.

Do orthodontists recommend avoiding chips with braces?

Many orthodontists and dentists do advise exercising caution with chips and other crunchy, brittle foods when you have braces. However, most stop short of saying you need to avoid them completely. Guidelines recommended by orthodontic experts include:

  • Use common sense when deciding which chips to eat.
  • Alter your eating method by breaking chips into pieces first.
  • Opt for softer chip varieties when possible.
  • Slow down chewing and be aware of what’s happening in your mouth.
  • Rinse and brush well after eating chips.
  • Inform your orthodontist if a certain food is repeatedly causing problems.

With the right precautions, most orthodontists confirm that patients can occasionally eat chips without jeopardizing their braces. But they also emphasize the need for awareness and care when doing so.

What are signs you shouldn’t eat chips with braces?

Your mouth will give you signals if a certain food isn’t mixing well with your braces. Here are some signs that chips may not be the best choice for you right now:

  • Discomfort or pain when eating chips – This could indicate chips are traumatizing your mouth.
  • Chips consistently getting stuck in braces – Trouble clearing debris is a red flag.
  • Brackets, bands or wires coming loose after eating chips – An indication of damage.
  • Broken or injured orthodontic hardware after crunching chips – Another damage clue.
  • Cuts, scrapes or sores in your mouth following consumption of chips – A sign of abrasion.

Pay attention to how your mouth feels when you eat chips with braces. Your body will tell you if something’s not right.

What to do if a chip gets stuck in your braces

Despite your best efforts, a chip particle may still become lodged in your orthodontic hardware from time to time. Here’s what to do if this occurs:

  1. Try dislodging it with your tongue or by drinking water.
  2. Use an interdental brush or proxy brush to gently detach and remove the stuck chip.
  3. As a last resort, remove the chip carefully with clean tweezers if you cannot dislodge it.
  4. Rinse your mouth thoroughly afterwards to clear away all debris.
  5. Brush and floss carefully but completely to clean your teeth and braces.
  6. Use orthodontic wax if the chip caused any abrasions or irritation.
  7. Call your orthodontist if you can’t remove the chip yourself or if your braces appear damaged.

Act quickly when a chip gets caught in your braces to minimize any resulting issues.

Potential risks of eating chips with braces

Why do orthodontists recommend caution when eating chips? What specific risks do chips pose for those with braces? Potential problems include:

  • Physical damage to braces – Chips can bend or break wires and brackets.
  • Dislodging orthodontic hardware – The crunching motion may loosen bands.
  • Interference with braces functioning – Stuck debris can halt teeth movement.
  • Discomfort and pain – Sharp chips can cut your cheeks, gums and lips.
  • Tooth decay – Chips can dislodge and get trapped, causing plaque buildup.
  • Digestive issues – Chips are difficult to break down and digest.
  • Extended treatment time – Major damage means more time in braces.

Weighing these possibilities against the enjoyment of eating chips can help determine if it’s worth the risk for you.

Healthier chip alternatives to eat with braces

If you decide chips aren’t the best idea during your brace treatment, there are some healthier alternatives that will satisfy your salty, crunchy craving. Some good options include:

  • Popcorn – Go for low-fat versions to avoid kernels getting stuck.
  • Pretzels – Opt for softer baked pretzels over hard twists.
  • Rice cakes – Look for flavored varieties for added taste.
  • Veggie straws – These have a similar crunch but are gentler on braces.
  • Apple chips – Chips made from dried apples have a tooth-friendly sweetness.
  • Kale chips – For a crispy, nutritious snack option.
  • Rice crackers – Choose crackers made from puffed rice for a lighter bite.

There are lots of ways to get a satisfying crispy snack that don’t jeopardize your braces like chips might. Your dietitian or orthodontist can suggest more appropriate alternatives.


At the end of the day, whether or not to eat chips with braces comes down to an individual decision. While most orthodontists advise exercising caution and good judgement when eating chips during treatment, they acknowledge that an occasional chip here and there will likely not cause major issues for most patients. Pay attention to your own mouth’s signals and reactions when deciding if enjoying some chips is worth the potential risks involved. With smart precautions and sensible moderation, many with braces can continue to indulge in an occasional chip without sabotaging their progress.

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