Can you have bubble tea with braces on?

Having braces can make enjoying your favorite foods more difficult. Things like popcorn kernels and hard candies are notorious for getting stuck in braces. But what about bubble tea? The tapioca pearls, or “boba”, that give bubble tea its name, seem like they could easily get stuck as well. Here’s what you need to know about having bubble tea with braces.

Quick Answer

Yes, you can have bubble tea with braces on. The tapioca pearls are soft enough that they won’t damage braces. Just be extra careful chewing the pearls completely and rinse your mouth thoroughly after drinking bubble tea.

Can Braces Damage the Pearls in Bubble Tea?

The tapioca pearls used in bubble tea are quite soft, with a chewy, gummy texture. This means they won’t damage or scratch dental braces. The pearls are made from tapioca starch that is extracted from cassava root. They don’t contain any ingredients that could harm braces.

Braces are made from high-quality stainless steel or ceramic brackets that are attached to the teeth with dental cement. This material is quite strong. Chewing soft tapioca pearls will not damage properly fitted and well-cared for braces.

Are the Pearls Too Sticky?

Some people worry that the chewy pearls will stick to braces and be hard to clean off. The pearls do have a sticky, gummy texture when chewed. However, thorough rinsing and brushing after eating bubble tea should remove any residue.

Be sure to swish water around your entire mouth to rinse out nooks and crannies. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush all tooth surfaces, brackets, and wires. This should remove any bits of tapioca or residual sweet tea.

Can the Pearls Get Caught in Braces?

The pearls have a small diameter, ranging from about 3mm to 8mm. This means they could potentially get stuck in braces if chewing is not thorough. To avoid this, be sure to chew each pearl completely until it breaks down before swallowing. Don’t try swallowing whole pearls.

Take your time chewing and completely break down each individual pearl. If you feel any pearls getting stuck, take a drink of water to help wash it down or carefully dislodge it with your tongue or a Q-tip.

Precautions for Drinking Bubble Tea with Braces

While enjoying the occasional bubble tea is fine with braces, take some precautions to minimize risks:

Rinse Thoroughly After Drinking

Be sure to swish water around your mouth, between teeth, and over and under your tongue after finishing your bubble tea. Thoroughly rinse away any lingering pearls, sweet tea, milk, or fruit pieces.

Brush After Drinking

Follow up your rinse by gently brushing your teeth, brackets, and wires. Use a soft toothbrush and take care not to tug on the wires. This will remove residues that could lead to cavities or decalcification marks.

Avoid Excess Sugar

Bubble tea can contain a lot of added sugar from things like fruit syrups, condensed milk, and sweeteners like honey or agave. Go easy on the extra sweet mix-ins and opt for fresh fruit or light dairy instead.

Watch Frequency

Limit yourself to occasionally enjoying bubble tea, such as once a week at most. The tapioca pearls themselves won’t damage braces, but having sugary drinks too often can lead to dental problems.

How to Drink Bubble Tea With Braces

Here are some tips for enjoying bubble tea if you have braces:

Pick Your Pearls

The traditional tapioca pearls are a safe choice as they have a soft, chewy texture. You may also want to try fruit jelly, coconut jelly, or aloe vera jelly pieces. Avoid any harder jellies or gummies.

Select a Tea Base

Stick to mild tea bases like black, green, oolong or white tea. Pass on coffee, chocolate or other stronger drinks which could stain braces.

Easy On the Sugar

Skip sugary syrups and go light on sweeteners. Allow fresh fruit flavors to naturally sweeten your drink instead.

Use a Wide Straw

Drink with a thick, bubble tea straw to avoid pearls getting stuck in metal or smaller straws.

Take Your Time

Don’t rush while chewing pearls. Break them down completely before swallowing to prevent choking or pearls getting caught in braces.

Rinse and Brush

Be sure to rinse your mouth and brush after enjoying your bubble tea to remove any residue.

Foods to Avoid With Braces

While bubble tea is ok for braces, there are some foods that should be avoided to protect your orthodontic investment:

Foods to Avoid Reasons to Avoid
Hard or crunchy foods like nuts, seeds, hard pretzels, ice cubes, popcorn kernels Can damage braces brackets and bend wires
Chewy or sticky foods like caramel, gum, licorice, Starbursts, Skittles Can remove braces cement and pull off brackets
Hard fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, corn on the cob Can bend wires and damage brackets

In addition to damaging braces, many of these foods can also get stuck in brackets and underneath wires. Focus on soft, tooth-friendly foods as recommended by your orthodontist.

Foods to Eat With Braces

Here are some tooth-friendly foods that are safe to enjoy in moderation with braces:

Recommended Foods Tips for Eating
Soft fruits like bananas, oranges, watermelon, berries Remove peels from oranges/bananas; cut other fruits into small pieces
Cooked vegetables like spinach, green beans, broccoli, carrots Steam or boil to soften; cut carrots into thin strips
Soft breads without seeds or nuts Tear bread into small pieces before chewing
Eggs, meat, poultry, fish Cut into bite-sized pieces; debone fish; shred meat
Cottage cheese, yogurt Low-sugar varieties are best
Noodles, pasta Cook until very soft; cut long noodles into shorter pieces

Focus on soft, moist foods that can be chewed and broken down completely before swallowing. Cut harder items into very small pieces. Avoid chewing on just one side, and use both sides of your mouth evenly while chewing.

Oral Hygiene with Braces

Practicing excellent oral hygiene is essential when you have braces:

Brush After Eating

Brush your teeth after every meal and snack. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Take extra time to brush carefully around brackets, under wires, and along your gumlines.

Clean With Interdental Tools

Use interdental cleaners like floss threaders, water flossers, or proxabrush tools to clean between your teeth and braces. Remove trapped food particles and plaque.

Rinse After Sugary Drinks

Always rinse your mouth with water after consuming sugary drinks like juice, soda, or bubble tea. Swish to remove residue that could lead to cavities.

Avoid Staining Foods

Curries, tomato sauces, berries, coffee, tea, and wine can stain orthodontic appliances. Limit staining foods or thoroughly brush braces after eating them.

Get Regular Adjustments

See your orthodontist for regular brace adjustments and wire changes as scheduled. Well-adjusted braces are easier to keep clean.

Potential Issues to Watch For

With diligent brace care and oral hygiene, problems are unlikely. But see your orthodontist right away if you notice:

  • Loose or broken braces
  • Poking wires
  • Mouth pain or soreness
  • Damage to the lips, gums or cheeks
  • Trapped food you can’t remove

Getting braces adjusted promptly can help prevent further complications and discomfort.

Consult Your Orthodontist

The best source for advice on managing braces is your orthodontist. Ask them:

  • Can I drink bubble tea with braces?
  • How often can I have it?
  • What precautions should I take?
  • What are the safest drink options and add-ins?

Your orthodontist will consider your unique dental situation and braces setup in making personalized recommendations.

The Bottom Line

Enjoying bubble tea in moderation is unlikely to damage braces when some common-sense precautions are taken. Thoroughly yet carefully chew the tapioca pearls before swallowing, rinse your mouth well after drinking, and brush your teeth and braces soon after consuming bubble tea. Focus on minimizing added sugars and skipping harder jellies or toppings. With some extra care and cleaning efforts, indulging in an occasional bubble tea can be part of a healthy diet during orthodontic treatment.

Leave a Comment