Is cheese OK to eat with braces?

Cheese is one of life’s simple pleasures, but if you have braces, you may wonder if it’s still okay to indulge. The answer isn’t straightforward. While cheese is not strictly off-limits with braces, there are some important factors to consider. Keep reading to learn more about how cheese affects your braces and oral health.

The Effects of Cheese on Braces

Cheese gets its strong flavor and gooey texture from milk proteins and fat. As cheese ages and develops, the proteins harden into stiff fibers while the fats separate and soften. This processes makes aged cheeses in particular very chewy and sticky.

When you have braces, chewy and sticky foods can get lodged in the wires and brackets. Removable cheeses like mozzarella tend to be lower risk, since they don’t adhere as strongly. But stickier, aged cheeses like cheddar or Swiss contain casein proteins that can really cling to orthodontic appliances.

Cheese can also damage braces in a couple key ways:

  • Brackets may loosen or detach if cheese wedges forcefully between teeth and wires.
  • Wires can bend or break if you bite into very hard cheeses.
  • Cheesy debris increases your risk for plaque buildup and tooth decay if it gets trapped near brackets.

So in general, cheese is not the most braces-friendly food due to its adhesive texture and hardness. But not all cheeses are created equal!

The Best and Worst Cheeses for Braces

If you have a cheese craving with braces, opt for softer, milder fresh cheeses. Aged hard cheeses are more likely to damage wires and cement bonding. Here is a comparison of good vs. bad cheese choices:

Better Cheeses for Braces Riskier Cheeses for Braces
Cottage cheese Cheddar
Cream cheese Swiss
Mozzarella Gruyere
Ricotta Parmesan
Goat cheese Pecorino
Mascarpone Asiago

Fresh, soft cheeses like mozzarella, goat, and ricotta melt easily and don’t tend to stick excessively to braces. On the other hand, aged hard cheeses are very sticky and dense, making them more likely to dislodge brackets or get stuck in wires.

How to Eat Cheese Safely with Braces

If you do decide to eat harder cheeses, take steps to reduce your risk of appliance damage:

  • Cut cheese into very small pieces before chewing.
  • Thoroughly chew pieces to soften before swallowing.
  • Rinse your mouth after eating to clear any debris.
  • Brush and floss carefully to clean brackets.
  • Use orthodontic wax if brackets feel loose or irritated after eating cheese.
  • Avoid cheesestring snacks like mozzarella sticks that form dense masses.

Also be selective in how you prepare cheeses. Grated parmesan or melted cheddar on pizza is gentler than chomping a cheese cube or slice. Pair cheese with soft foods like bread that make it easier to chew.

How Much Cheese Can You Eat With Braces?

There’s no universally safe portion when it comes to cheese with braces. The closer you stick to soft fresh cheeses, the more freely you can enjoy them.

For young, impressionable teeth, orthodontists recommend limiting sticky foods like cheese to 3-4 times per week at most. Adults with mature teeth and bone can handle slightly larger amounts, but be prudent. Daily cheese snacks or meals could compromise your orthodontic progress.

A good rule of thumb: If you can’t comfortably chew a mouthful until it’s almost dissolved, it’s too big of a portion for braces. Smaller bites are key for minimizing risks.

Cheese Guidelines for Braces

  • Kids/teens: 3-4 servings weekly
  • Adults: 1 serving daily max
  • 1 serving = 1-2 oz soft cheese OR 1⁄4 cup grated/crumbled hard cheese
  • Any cheese should be thoroughly chewed into a soft consistency before swallowing

How Cheese Impacts Your Oral Health

Aside from potential appliance damage, cheesy treats can also negatively affect the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums while you have braces. Here are some key ways cheese can cause harm:

Tooth Decay

Cheese is high in calcium, but also acidity. Its low pH softens enamel and lets cavity-causing bacteria thrive. Bits of cheese left stuck on teeth intensify this damage. Frequent cheese exposure can mean new decay spots, especially near brackets.

Gum Disease

Hard cheeses require vigorous chewing that can inflame orthodontic-stressed gums. Cheese particles caught under wires also encourage plaque bacteria that inflame gums.


Like coffee and tea, cheese can stain your teeth yellow, which shows up more obviously with braces. Using a straw helps limit contact with mouth surfaces.

Bad Breath

Cheese has a strong aroma, and particles left in your mouth can make bad breath linger. Be diligent about brushing after cheese.


Cheese allergies or sensitivities like lactose intolerance can cause side effects like mouth pain, sores, swelling, and nausea. In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction could require emergency brace removal.

Tips for Healthier Cheese Eating

To limit the risks of cheese for your dental and brace health:

  • Opt for low-fat versions with less enamel-eroding fat.
  • Enjoy cheese as part of a larger meal, not as a standalone snack.
  • Increase abrasive foods like apples, celery, or sugar-free gum after cheese to scrub away debris.
  • Savor a square or two of dark chocolate for dessert to neutralize pH.
  • Drink water to rinse acid and clear particles.
  • Wait until the end of a meal to enjoy a small cheese serving to limit exposure.

What If You Damage Braces with Cheese?

Hopefully you can take preventive steps to avoid appliance injury from cheese. But if a mishap occurs, don’t panic. Minor issues like loosened cement or irritated gums can often be remedied until your next ortho appointment. More significant damage like broken wires or loose brackets needs professional repair ASAP. Damaged orthodontics can’t exert their intended shaping and straightening force.

Relieve pain from irritated gums with wax or OTC pain relief like ibuprofen. If a wire is stabbing your cheek, try using a pencil eraser to gently push it back into place. But avoid any major at-home brace adjustments, as you may worsen the problem.

Call your orthodontist’s office right away if you experience:

  • Broken wires or loose brackets
  • A lost band
  • Poking wires
  • Loose or damaged appliances
  • Injuries inside the mouth like cuts or sores

These require immediate professional attention to get braces back into working condition and avoid treatment delays. Bring any dislodged pieces with you to your orthodontist appointment.

Other Foods to Watch Out For

Cheese lovers aren’t the only ones who have to be choosy during orthodontic treatment. Many foods carry risks for braces, but some big ones to watch out for include:

Chewy Foods

Gummy candies, licorice, caramels, dried fruit, marshmallows

Crunchy Foods

Nuts, hard pretzels, ice, popcorn, hard tacos

Sticky Foods

Taffy, cooked pasta, pizza crust, chewing gum, caramel

Hard Foods

Raw carrots, beef jerky, hard candy, uncut apples

Crumbly Foods

Cookies, cereal, crackers, granola bars

Some can be made safer by modifying preparation, like cutting nuts or meats into very small chewable pieces. But sticky foods in particular tend to pose high risks. Take care when choosing candy, baked goods, peanut butter, and melty cheese.

Is My Child Too Young for Cheese with Braces?

Cheese is not considered an optimal food for children under age 3 due to potential allergies. Toddler teeth are still very impressionable as well. Most orthodontists recommend introducing cheese no earlier than around age 3 once molars have emerged.

For young kids with braces or spacers, cheese is particularly risky. Immature enamel is extra vulnerable to decay. Young oral muscles and jaw bones also can’t withstand the intense pressure of chewing firmer cheeses.

Many orthodontists strongly discourage cheese for kids under 8 to 10 years old while they have braces. Set firmer limits on sticky foods at this age and focus snacks on softer items like smoothies. Hold the parmesan and cheddar for a celebratory meal once braces come off!

When Can You Enjoy Cheese Again?

Once your braces treatment is over, you’ll likely look forward to eating beloved foods like cheese with wild abandon! But don’t overdo it right away. Your teeth will be sensitive and vulnerable immediately after debonding as they settle into proper alignment.

Ease back into cheese over the first 2-3 weeks post-braces. Start with soft fresh cheeses and small portions. Hold off on really hard, sharp varieties for at least a month to allow your gums and teeth to readjust.

You can return to eating cheese normally after about 3-4 weeks with retainers. Just be sure to remove retainers when enjoying any sticky, hard foods. And keep up thorough oral hygiene to prevent damage to your bright new smile!

Guidelines for Post-Braces Cheese Indulgence

  • First 1-2 weeks: Soft, low-fat cheeses only. No hard cheeses.
  • 3-4 weeks: Up to 1-2 servings per day of mild semi-hard cheeses. Avoid cheesestrings and sharp aged cheeses.
  • After 1 month: Resume your normal cheese habits, in moderation.
  • Always remove retainers for eating. Brush/floss after cheese.


Cheese can absolutely be part of an orthodontic diet—in controlled portions! Stick to soft, mild fresh cheeses most often while limiting sticky hard varieties. Take care to cut cheeses into chewable sizes and rinse your mouth after eating to avoid oral health and brace damage.

Most importantly, discuss your cheese plans with your orthodontist. They can advise the safest options and amounts for your unique treatment. With some mindful moderation, you can keep enjoying delicious cheese throughout your journey with braces.

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