Is corn on the cob good for braces?

Quick Answer

Corn on the cob can be tricky to eat with braces. The kernels can easily get stuck in the wires and brackets. However, eating corn on the cob is possible with some precautions. Try cutting the corn off the cob, chewing slowly and carefully, and cleaning your teeth thoroughly after eating. Avoid biting into the cob itself as this is more likely to damage braces. With some adjustments, you can still enjoy corn on the cob while wearing braces.

Can You Eat Corn on the Cob with Braces?

Yes, you can eat corn on the cob with braces, but extra care and precautions should be taken. The natural shape and texture of corn on the cob makes it more challenging to chew and clean with braces. The kernel husks and cob can be abrasive on the brackets and wires. Food particles also easily get lodged in braces which can lead to irritation, pain or damage if not removed properly. However, corn on the cob is not completely off limits, as long as you take the right approach when eating it. Here are some tips to help you enjoy corn on the cob while wearing braces:

  • Cut the kernels off the cob before eating. Use a sharp knife to slice the kernels off, then chew and swallow them. This prevents having to bite down directly on the cob.
  • If eating it right off the cob, take very small, gentle bites. Do not bite down hard or sink your teeth deep into the cob.
  • Chew slowly and carefully, being mindful of the food’s position in your mouth.
  • Swish water in your mouth while eating to help rinse away any particles.
  • Floss and brush immediately after eating to remove any food debris caught in your braces.
  • Use an interdental brush or special orthodontic appliance cleaner to dislodge any kernals stuck in the wires or brackets.
  • Avoid eating corn on the cob if you have rubber bands on your braces, as they can easily be dislodged or broken.
  • See your orthodontist immediately if you have any bracket or wire damage from eating corn on the cob.

Taking these precautions allows you to eat corn on the cob while minimizing the risks. The key is going slowly, chewing carefully, and being thorough with cleaning your teeth and braces afterwards. However, you may find it easier to simply cut the corn kernels off the cob instead.

Reasons to Avoid Eating Corn on the Cob with Braces

Although it’s possible to eat corn on the cob with braces, many orthodontists and dentists recommend avoiding it. Here are some of the main reasons corn on the cob poses challenges with braces:

  • Kernels get stuck – Braces have a lot of nooks and crannies where food particles easily become trapped. The small, hard kernels of corn can wedge tightly into wires and brackets.
  • Risk of damage – Attempting to bite or chew down directly on a cob with braces increases the risk of damaging or loosening the wires or bonded brackets.
  • Difficult to clean – Rotating the cob in your mouth makes it hard to fully dislodge all particles. The shape and texture also limit the cleaning power of brushing and flossing.
  • May interfere with rubber bands – If elastic rubber bands are used with your braces, cob friction can stretch and displace them.
  • Abrasive on orthodontic appliances – The fibrous texture of the corn cob can scrape and scratch braces, leading to issues.
  • Can irritate mouth and gums – Kernels wedged under wires or brackets rub and poke tender areas of your mouth.
  • Higher risk of decay – Particles left stuck in braces cause plaque buildup and bacterial growth that produces tooth-damaging acids.

Due to the high likelihood of kernels getting lodged and other issues, most orthodontists recommend avoiding corn on the cob altogether while braced. The complications and discomfort are not worth the momentary enjoyment of eating the corn. There are better options for maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing braces damage when craving corn.

Better Alternatives for Eating Corn with Braces

If you have a hankering for corn but want to steer clear of the cob, try these safer alternatives that won’t wreak havoc on your braces:

  • Cut corn kernels – Use a knife to slice the kernels off the cob before cooking or eating. The loose kernels are easier to chew and pose no risk of kernels wedging into orthodontic appliances.
  • Canned or frozen corn – Kernels are already removed and soft enough to chew easily. Rinse well to clear any residual liquid or food particles away.
  • Corn tortillas or chips – The dried masa flour or cooked soft tortilla wraps can satisfy a craving without braces trouble.
  • Cornbread – Moist, crumbly cornbread breaks apart easily for safe chewing. Avoid extremely dry or dense corn breads.
  • Corn muffins – The small, bite-sized pieces of fresh-baked corn muffins are a safer choice.
  • Popcorn – With no cob, popcorn kernels easily break down during chewing without jamming brackets. Go easy on unpopped seeds.

Choosing one of these gentler corn options allows you to enjoy the sweet flavor and delightful crunch without hassling your orthodontic work. Your teeth stay protected and free of debris when corn on the cob is avoided.

Special Precautions for Braces When Eating Corn

If you do choose to occasionally eat corn on the cob with braces, take these added precautions to minimize risks:

  • Use dental wax on any brackets or wires that are irritating your mouth. This helps smooth rough edges.
  • Apply orthodontic relief wax on the teeth near the corn cob for an added buffer.
  • Cut a small slit into the center of the corn with a knife before taking bites. This helps prevent the cob from pressing on your braces as you bite down.
  • Consider removing rubber bands before eating, then replacing them after. This prevents dislodging or snapping them.
  • Brush and floss several times throughout the day after eating corn on the cob.
  • Use an interdental brush or special orthodontic cleaner to thoroughly remove debris from brace wires.
  • Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria and food particles left over.
  • Avoid chewing gum or other sticky, tacky foods immediately after eating corn to prevent further trapping particles.
  • Schedule an orthodontic adjustment appointment right away if your braces feel damaged or painful.

Taking measures to protect your oral appliances helps reduce the risks of eating foods like corn on the cob. But, you may find it safest to simply refrain until you have your braces removed by your orthodontist.

Foods to Avoid with Braces Besides Corn on the Cob

In addition to corn on the cob, orthodontists typically advise avoiding other foods with braces including:

  • Hard, crunchy foods – Items like raw carrots, seeds, nuts, popcorn kernels and hard pretzels pose high risks of damage.
  • Chewy, sticky foods – Gum, caramel, taffy and gummy candies can remover rubber bands or pull out wires.
  • Hard candies – Lollipops, jolly ranchers and similar hard sweets can crack brackets by sticking to teeth.
  • Ice – Sucking on hard ice cubes can warp wires and reposition teeth.
  • Crusty breads – Tough, crusty rolls and French bread have hard edges that can cut braces.
  • Corn chips – Jagged broken chips scrape against brackets similar to corn cobs.
  • Beef jerky – The fibrous, dry texture gets tangled around components.
  • Hard, sugary candy – Jawbreakers, peppermints and butterscotch can pull out loose bands or brackets.

Although not as inherently risky as corn cobs, these foods require extra caution as they can also complicate braces treatment. Safer alternatives exist for satisfying cravings without jeopardizing your orthodontic work.

Healthier Braces-Friendly Alternatives to Corn on the Cob

Instead of corn on the cob, fill your plate with these more brace-appropriate options that also offer great nutrition:

  • Steamed, soft vegetables – Well-cooked sliced carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash and greens are low risk.
  • Sliced fruits – Bite-sized pieces of soft fruits like bananas, apples, grapes, berries, melons, oranges or kiwi are ideal.
  • Yogurt and cottage cheese – Soft dairy products are cool and soothing on braces.
  • Mashed potatoes – Smooth, creamy potatoes are easy to eat.
  • Soup – Warm broth-based soups with soft ingredients slip by braces easily.
  • Smoothies – Drink cool fruit and yogurt smoothies with a spoon instead of a straw.
  • Protein shakes – Made with milk or yogurt, protein shakes provide nutrients.
  • Oatmeal – Cooked oats topped with sliced fruit make an excellent breakfast.
  • Pasta – Long strands of slippery spaghetti or macaroni avoid braces mishaps.
  • Rice – Ground rice slides through braces with no pain or problems.

Choosing healthy whole foods that naturally avoid orthodontic trouble keeps your teeth safe while providing balanced nutrition. With some thoughtful adjustments, you can maintain proper braces care and a wholesome diet.

Tips for Minimizing Braces Complications When Eating Corn on the Cob

If you decide to occasionally indulge in corn on the cob, keep these tips in mind to lower risks:

  • Soften the cob by microwaving it for 20-30 seconds before eating.
  • Cut the corn off the sides of the cob first, then eat closer to the center last.
  • Never bite down directly on the cob – grasp kernels with your lips and gently scrape off.
  • Rotate the cob frequently while eating to hit all sides, preventing excess pressure on any one area.
  • Chew with your back teeth and keep corn away from your front brackets.
  • Swish water around your mouth while eating to rinse away particles.
  • Floss multiple times during the meal to regularly clear debris.
  • Avoid any toppings like butter, salt or pepper that make the corn more likely to stick.
  • Brush gently but thoroughly immediately after eating to clean your teeth, braces, gums and tongue.
  • Use orthodontic wax to cover any irritated brackets or wires before eating.

With mindful, cautious eating and proper follow-up cleaning, an occasional corn on the cob indulgence can be possible. But, it’s always safest to avoid the cob entirely while wearing braces.

What Happens if You Eat Corn on the Cob with Braces?

Eating corn on the cob with braces poses a range of risks including:

  • Kernels can become tightly wedged into wires or brackets causing pain. This requires emergency removal by an orthodontist.
  • The abrasive fibers of the corn cob may scratch or damage the brackets or bands.
  • Attempting to bite into the cob may crack, loosen or detach brackets from the teeth.
  • Food trapped around braces leads to plaque buildup and potential decay or staining.
  • Rubbing or poking of sharp corn kernels can irritate the cheeks, gums and tongue.
  • Inability to properly floss and brush after eating leaves food particles in the braces.
  • The bracket edges may cut or slice the interior of the mouth.
  • Dislodged rubber bands will need replacement, delaying treatment progress.
  • Broken wires or damaged braces may require an expensive, time-consuming repair.

To avoid these troublesome scenarios, orthodontists typically recommend cutting corn kernels off the cob or avoiding corn on the cob altogether when you have braces. The short term enjoyment is not worth risking your oral health and orthodontic results.


Corn on the cob can certainly be tricky to manage with braces due to the potential for kernels to easily become stuck and the risks of cob fibers damaging wires or bonded brackets. However, enjoying corn in moderation is possible by taking preventative steps like:

– Cutting the kernels off before eating
– Chewing slowly and gently
– Using wax or guards to protect braces
– Flossing thoroughly during and after eating
– Rinsing the mouth frequently while eating
– Brushing well afterwards

Avoiding biting into the cob itself and selecting softer corn preparations can allow you to satisfy seasonal corn cravings without derailing orthodontic treatment. With some extra care and caution, braces wearers can still highlight summer with an ear of sweet, golden corn on the grill.

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