Having braces can make eating certain foods more difficult, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite snacks. Cheetos are a popular crunchy snack that many people wonder if they can still enjoy with braces. The short answer is yes, you can still eat Cheetos with braces, but there are some precautions you should take.
Why Are Cheetos a Concern with Braces?
Cheetos have a very crunchy texture that could potentially cause some issues for those wearing braces:
- They can get stuck in braces – The nooks and crannies of braces provide plenty of places for pieces of crunchy snacks like Cheetos to become lodged.
- They can break brackets or wires – Cheetos require quite a bit of chewing force to bite through and break down. This intense pressure could cause damage to braces.
- They can irritate brackets – Even if they don’t break the braces, the crunchy pieces rubbing against the metal brackets could lead to discomfort and irritation.
- They can be difficult to clean – The cheese dust coating on Cheetos can be sticky and challenging to fully clean out of braces.
Precautions for Eating Cheetos with Braces
If you want to enjoy Cheetos while wearing braces, here are some tips to eat them as safely as possible:
- Break them into smaller pieces first – This reduces the force needed to chew them and decreases chances of damage to your braces.
- Chew carefully and slowly – Take your time chewing to avoid crunching forcefully on your brackets.
- Chew with your back teeth – Position the Cheeto pieces toward the back of your mouth to keep them away from your braces.
- Swish water after eating – Rinsing with water can help dislodge small pieces stuck in your braces.
- Brush and floss after – Be sure to thoroughly clean your teeth, brackets and wires to remove any remaining Cheeto residue.
If you take the proper precautions, you should be able to satisfy your Cheetos craving without harming your braces! Just be cautious and mindful when eating them.
Foods to Avoid with Braces
While Cheetos are ok in moderation, there are some foods that orthodontists typically recommend fully avoiding with braces:
- Hard, crunchy foods like nuts, seeds, hard pretzels, ice cubes, etc.
- Sticky and chewy foods like caramel, gum, licorice, Starbursts, Skittles, etc.
- Hard or crunchy raw vegetables and fruits like apples, carrots, corn on the cob, etc.
- Crunchy chips like Doritos, Fritos, tortilla chips, etc.
- Hard candies like lollipops, Jolly Ranchers, Now and Laters, etc.
- Foods that could bend or loosen the wires like pizza crust or bagels.
The sticky starches and acids in foods that can get trapped near the braces make these types of snacks particularly problematic.
Best Snacks to Eat with Braces
Although you need to limit crunchy snacks like Cheetos, there are still plenty of good snacks you can enjoy while wearing braces:
- Yogurt, pudding, applesauce
- Milkshakes, smoothies
- Mashed potatoes, creamed soups
- Non-crunchy chips like potato or tortilla chips
- Soft, cheese-based snacks like cheese sticks, Babybel cheeses
- Bananas, peeled apples, watermelon, cantaloupe
- Soft breads, muffins, rolls
- Noodles, pasta, cooked rice
- Soft protein foods like scrambled eggs, meatloaf, fish
Focus on soft, smooth foods that won’t pose a damage risk to your braces. And always thoroughly rinse your mouth after eating to keep your braces clean.
Cheetos Nutrition Facts
Here is a nutrition breakdown for a 1 oz (28g) serving of original Cheetos crunchy cheese flavored snacks:
As you can see, Cheetos are high in fat and sodium. The fat content comes from oil and cheese, while the sodium is added during processing.
Some other key things to note:
- Majority of fat is saturated and unhealthy
- Contains trans fat
- High in refined carbohydrates and starch
- Low in protein
- No dietary fiber
- No vitamins or minerals
So while Cheetos can be eaten in moderation with braces, they are lacking in nutritional value. Focus your snacking on healthier options to provide your body with proper vitamins and minerals.
Cheetos have a pretty long list of processed ingredients:
- Enriched corn meal (corn meal, ferrous sulfate, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid)
- Vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil)
- Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes)
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Romano cheese (part skim cow’s milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes)
- Whey protein concentrate
- Onion powder
- Corn flour
- Natural and artificial flavor
- Tomato powder
- Artificial color (yellow 6)
- Lactic acid
- Citric acid
- Garlic powder
- Skim milk
- Red and green bell pepper powder
- Disodium inosinate & guanylate
- Extractives of paprika
As you can see, there are very few whole, natural ingredients. The majority are highly processed and artificial, including preservatives, artificial colors and MSG.
Braces-Friendly Cheetos Substitutes
If you want to satisfy your craving for crunchy, cheese flavored snacks in a braces-friendly way, here are some better options than Cheetos:
- Baked cheese crackers – Cheez-Its, Better Cheddars, etc. Crunchy but less hard.
- Popcorn – Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast or Parmesan.
- Soft pretzel bites – Mini twist pretzels have less crunchy hard edges.
- Veggie straws – Crunchy, portable sticks made from vegetables.
- Cheese and cracker sandwiches – Stack bite-sized crackers with cheese slices.
- Quesadillas – Cheese melted between soft tortillas.
- Mozzarella sticks – Breaded cheese sticks baked or fried until melty.
These alternatives will satisfy the urge for a cheesy crunch without being quite as problematic to eat with braces.
Precautions When Switching to Braces
Getting braces involves making some adjustments to your eating habits and oral hygiene routine. Here are some precautions to take when you first get braces:
- Stick to soft foods at first while you get used to chewing and eating with braces.
- Cut up larger pieces of food into bite-sized portions.
- Avoid very hot, hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy foods that could damage braces.
- Take small careful bites and chew slowly and gently especially with new braces.
- Brush and floss thoroughly after eating to clean your teeth, braces and wires.
- Use orthodontic toothbrushes, water flossers and fluoride mouthwash.
- Avoid biting into foods like apples, corn on the cob, carrots and bagels.
- Be cautious with snacks like nuts, seeds, popcorn, chips and hard candies.
- Use orthodontic wax to cover any rough or poking brackets.
- Rinse your mouth after meals with water.
It can take some time to get fully comfortable eating with braces. Take it slow at first while your mouth adjusts.
Proper Oral Hygiene with Braces
Practicing excellent oral hygiene is especially crucial when you have braces to prevent complications like decalcification, white spots, plaque buildup, inflamed gums and cavities.
Here are some tips for proper oral hygiene with braces:
- Brush after meals – Brush after every meal for 3-5 minutes with fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush carefully around braces – Carefully brush each tooth, bracket and wire to remove all debris.
- Floss thoroughly – Floss at least once daily, taking extra care to get under the wires.
- Use proxy brushes – These help clean between brackets and under wires.
- Rinse after eating – Swish water in your mouth to remove food particles.
- Avoid sugary foods/drinks – These increase risk for cavities.
- Get dental cleanings – Visit your dentist regularly while in braces.
- Use fluoride – Fluoride toothpaste, rinse and treatments protect your enamel.
Proper oral care while you have braces is vital for avoiding permanent damage to your teeth and gums. Be diligent about brushing, flossing and rinsing.
How Long Does It Take to Adjust to Braces?
It takes most people somewhere between 2-4 weeks to fully adjust to wearing braces and feel comfortable eating and speaking normally. Those first few weeks can be challenging as your mouth gets used to the braces.
Here’s what to expect during the adjustment period when you first get braces:
- 1-3 days – Soreness, tender teeth and irritation from new braces.
- 1 week – Some soreness may still linger, but should be improving.
- 2 weeks – Less pain or discomfort when eating or brushing teeth.
- 3-4 weeks – Fully adjusted to braces. Able to eat and speak normally.
Some tips to help manage during the adjustment phase:
- Take OTC pain relievers as needed for soreness.
- Stick to soft foods.
- Be extra diligent about brushing and flossing.
- Use orthodontic wax for relief from poking.
- Rinse your mouth after eating.
- Wait 3-5 days for eating harder foods.
Although it may take up to a month to get used to braces, the discomfort is temporary and worth it for a beautiful straight smile.
Oral Hygiene Problems with Braces
Not caring properly for your oral hygiene while wearing braces can lead to complications like:
- Plaque buildup – Around brackets and under wires.
- Gingivitis – Red, swollen, tender gums from inflammation.
- Tooth decay – Braces make teeth more cavity prone.
- White spots – Mineral loss on teeth near brackets.
- Discoloration – Around brackets from poor cleaning.
- Decalcification – Permanent mineral loss around brackets.
Thorough brushing and flossing is essential for avoiding these kinds of problems with braces. See your dentist right away if you notice any sore, irritated or discolored areas around your braces.
While foods like Cheetos require some extra care when eating with braces, you don’t have to fully give up crunchy snacks. By taking proper precautions, breaking them into smaller pieces, chewing carefully and cleaning your teeth well after eating, Cheetos can still be enjoyed in moderation without causing issues.
Focus on maintaining excellent oral hygiene by brushing thoroughly after meals, flossing daily and rinsing after eating. Be extra diligent about cleaning around your braces. Avoid overindulging in sticky, hard or crunchy snacks. And take care not to bite into hazardous foods.
With some minor adjustments to your snacking and oral care routine, wearing braces doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of all the foods you enjoy. You’ll be back to eating normally once you get used to your braces within a few weeks. Just be patient during the initial adjustment phase.
Before long you’ll have beautifully straight teeth thanks to your braces!