How long after getting braces can you eat normal foods?

Getting braces is an exciting time, but it also means making some changes to your eating habits, at least temporarily. After getting braces, you’ll need to follow a special diet to protect your teeth and avoid damage to your orthodontic appliances. Here’s what you need to know about transitioning back to eating normal foods after you get braces.

The Initial Diet After Getting Braces

For the first 24 hours after getting braces, you’ll need to follow a soft food diet. This means avoiding chewing anything hard or crunchy that could damage the brackets or wires. Stick to foods like:

  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Smoothies
  • Pudding
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes

You’ll follow this diet for the first day only. After that, you can begin transitioning back to normal foods, but it’s a gradual process.

1-7 Days After Getting Braces

For the first week after getting braces, you’ll still need to avoid hard, crunchy, and sticky foods that could damage braces. Foods to avoid include:

  • Hard breads and bagels
  • Pizza crust
  • Hard meats like steak
  • Raw vegetables like carrots and celery
  • Chips and pretzels
  • Sticky foods like gum, caramel, and taffy
  • Chewy foods like licorice and Starbursts

You can begin reintroducing softer foods during this time, such as:

  • Pasta
  • Fish
  • Well-cooked vegetables like green beans, squash, and broccoli
  • Soft breads and dinner rolls
  • Soft tortillas and burrito shells
  • Shredded wheat cereal
  • Ripe bananas
  • Soft cheeses
  • Muffins
  • Soft cookies

You’ll need to be extra careful when biting into foods to avoid damage. Try to cut foods up into small pieces that can be placed toward the back of the mouth and chewed slowly.

2-4 Weeks After Getting Braces

After about 2-4 weeks, you can try incorporating some normal foods back into your diet, but some foods may still be off limits. Options you may be able to eat now include:

  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples or carrots – cut into small pieces
  • Pizza – if thinly sliced
  • Bread
  • Burgers – be careful biting into them
  • Chicken – thoroughly cooked and cut into pieces
  • Tacos or burritos – if you avoid hard taco shells

However, you’ll still need to avoid:

  • Chewy and sticky candy
  • Hard, crunchy chips, pretzels, popcorn
  • Firm raw vegetables and fruit like corn on the cob or whole apples
  • Chewy crusty breads, bagels, pizza crust
  • Gum
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Hard candy or ice

You’ll get better at figuring out what you can chew safely. Go slowly, and if a food seems like it may damage your braces, avoid it for a little longer.

1-2 Months After Getting Braces

After about 1-2 months, your mouth will get used to braces. At this point, you should be able to eat most foods, but some may still be off limits until braces come off. Foods you can likely eat now include:

  • Sandwiches
  • Pizza
  • Burgers
  • Tacos
  • Pasta
  • Salads
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Chicken wings
  • Ribs

However, continue to avoid very hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky foods that can bend wires or break brackets:

  • Nuts
  • Hard pretzels
  • Ice
  • Gum
  • Caramel
  • Taffy
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Popcorn kernels

When Can I Eat Normally Again?

You’ll need to be careful with your eating habits throughout your entire course of orthodontic treatment. However, after about 6-8 weeks, you should be able to eat a relatively normal diet again. Avoid the hardest, stickiest, crunchiest foods and you should be fine.

Eventually, your orthodontist will decide when your teeth have moved enough for braces to be removed. Once they come off, your diet can return to normal.

Tips for Eating with Braces

Here are some tips to make eating with braces easier and safer:

  • Cut foods into small pieces before eating.
  • Avoid biting into foods; place pieces carefully between back teeth instead.
  • Chew slowly using your back teeth.
  • Avoid sticky, chewy, crunchy, and hard foods.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Be careful with braces when eating in public.
  • Carry orthodontic wax to place on any braces irritating your cheeks.

Foods to Avoid with Braces

It’s important to know what foods to avoid with braces. Here are some top foods orthodontists recommend you stay away from:

  • Gum
  • Chewy candy like caramel, licorice, and taffy
  • Popcorn
  • Ice
  • Hard foods like nuts, seeds, hard pretzels
  • Sticky foods like gum, caramel, gummy bears
  • Crunchy foods like chips, raw vegetables, carrots, apples
  • Hard breads like bagels, hard rolls, and crusty bread
  • Corn on the cob
  • Beef jerky

Pay attention to any foods that get stuck in your braces easily. You’ll get better at identifying problem foods over time. When in doubt, stick to soft, easy-to-chew choices.

Transitioning Off the Soft Food Diet

Wondering when you can stop the soft food diet after getting braces? Here are some general timelines to follow:

  • Day 1: Liquids and soft foods only like yogurt, apple sauce, smoothies.
  • Days 2-7: Soft foods like eggs, oatmeal, well-cooked pasta, shredded wheat cereal.
  • Weeks 2-4: Soft foods plus softer fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses.
  • Months 1-2: Most foods are okay, but avoid very hard, sticky, crunchy foods.

After 6-8 weeks, you should be able to transition back to a relatively normal diet. But avoid problem foods for the duration of treatment. When in doubt, stick to soft foods a little longer.

When to Call Your Orthodontist

Call your orthodontist right away if you have issues like:

  • Loose or broken braces
  • Poking wires
  • Brackets coming loose
  • Mouth injuries or cuts from braces
  • Being unable to place elastic bands

Don’t try to fix braces problems yourself. Call your orthodontist for any issues.

Caring for Braces While Eating

To keep braces clean and healthy while eating with braces:

  • Brush after every meal.
  • Floss carefully every day.
  • Rinse mouth thoroughly after eating.
  • Avoid staining foods like pasta sauce, curry, soy sauce, berries, wine.
  • See your orthodontist regularly.
  • Use orthodontic wax for soreness.

Proper braces care is just as important as watching what you eat. Keep braces and teeth clean to avoid permanent stains, decalcification, cavities, and other oral health issues.

Sample Menu for the First Week with Braces

Here is a sample soft foods menu for the first week after getting braces:

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Yogurt, oatmeal
  • Lunch: Mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pudding
  • Dinner: Soup, mashed potatoes, applesauce

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, yogurt
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich on soft bread, mashed potatoes
  • Dinner: Fish, rice, cooked vegetables

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Pancakes, banana
  • Lunch: Noodles, cooked carrots
  • Dinner: Chicken noodle soup, jello

Day 4

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, yogurt smoothie
  • Lunch: Grilled cheese on soft bread, applesauce
  • Dinner: Baked potato, cottage cheese

Day 5

  • Breakfast: Eggs, grits
  • Lunch: Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes
  • Dinner: Chili, rice pudding

Day 6

  • Breakfast: Pancakes, banana
  • Lunch: Tomato soup, crackers
  • Dinner: Fish, cooked carrots, pudding

Day 7

  • Breakfast: Cereal, yogurt
  • Lunch: Pasta with sauce, applesauce
  • Dinner: Chicken, mashed potatoes, jello

This sample menu gives you an idea of soft foods to eat the first week when transitioning to normal foods after getting braces. Modify this based on your own dietary needs and preferences.


Adjusting to eating with braces takes time. For the first 24 hours, stick to a liquid diet. Slowly progress to soft foods for 1-2 weeks, then semi-soft foods for 2-4 weeks. After 6-8 weeks, you should be able to eat a relatively normal diet while being careful with hard, sticky, and crunchy foods. Proper eating habits and braces care are crucial for a successful orthodontic treatment.

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