What happens if I eat popcorn with braces?

Eating popcorn with braces can be tricky. The kernels can easily get stuck in the wires and brackets of your braces. While an occasional piece of popcorn likely won’t cause any problems, regularly eating popcorn with braces can lead to a few issues.

Can I eat popcorn with braces?

You can eat popcorn with braces, but you’ll need to be cautious. Popcorn is one of the trickier foods to eat with orthodontic appliances. The hard kernels can lodge into the wires and brackets. Pieces also tend to get stuck in between your teeth.

Many orthodontists recommend avoiding popcorn while you have braces. But if you do choose to eat it, make sure to floss and brush immediately afterwards. Take extra care to fully clean your teeth and dislodge any trapped kernels.

Risks of eating popcorn with braces

Eating popcorn regularly with braces can lead to a few problems:

  • Food stuck in braces – Popcorn kernels easily wedge into braces. This can cause pain, discomfort and infection in the gums. It also leads to tooth decay as the stuck food contributes to plaque buildup.
  • Damage to braces – Hard popcorn kernels and husks can bend, warp or even break brackets and wires. This can extend overall treatment time.
  • Injury to the mouth – Braces contain sharp metal components. Eating popcorn can cause cuts, lesions and injuries to the lips, gums and cheeks.

Tips for eating popcorn with braces

If you do choose to eat popcorn with braces, follow these tips to reduce your risk:

  • Cook it thoroughly – Fully pop all kernels. Unpopped seeds are hard and more likely to get stuck.
  • Use orthodontic wax – Coat any rough or sharp spots on your braces before eating.
  • Watch kernel sizes – Opt for finer, low-hull popcorn varieties.
  • Remove hulls – Discard any loose husks before eating to reduce abrasions.
  • Take small bites – Carefully chew small amounts at a time.
  • Floss and brush after – Thoroughly clean your teeth and braces to remove any trapped food.
  • Avoid buttery/sugary toppings – These increase your risk of plaque and tooth decay.
  • See your orthodontist – Get wires and brackets checked regularly for damage.

Foods to eat instead of popcorn with braces

Rather than popcorn, orthodontists often recommend eating these foods instead while wearing braces:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Pasta
  • Casseroles
  • Eggs
  • Shredded meat
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Soup
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas

These softer, low-acid foods are easier to chew and swallow. They’re less likely to damage braces or get stuck in the wires and brackets.

What if I accidentally swallow popcorn with braces?

Swallowing small amounts of popcorn with braces should not cause any problems. The kernels should safely pass through your digestive system like other food. Just be sure to chew popcorn thoroughly before swallowing to prevent choking.

In rare cases, swallowed popcorn hulls could possibly cause an intestinal blockage. But this usually only occurs after eating large quantities. If you experience severe abdominal pain, constipation or other concerning symptoms after eating popcorn with braces, see a doctor immediately.

How to prevent popcorn from getting stuck in braces

It takes diligence to prevent popcorn from getting stuck in your orthodontic appliances. Here are some top tips:

  • Avoid popcorn – The easiest way is to simply not eat it.
  • Pick Orthodontic popcorn – Some brands make special low-hull varieties designed for braces.
  • Remove loose hulls – Discard before eating to reduce abrasions.
  • Floss during eating – Bring floss to the movie theater to clear any kernels stuck mid-snack.
  • Rinse mouth – Swish water to help dislodge pieces after eating.
  • Floss thoroughly – Take time to fully clean teeth, wires and brackets.
  • Brush carefully – Use an orthodontic brush to polish around braces.
  • Avoid sticky/sugary toppings – Caramel, chocolate, etc. increase buildup.
  • Visit your orthodontist – Get regular adjustments to reduce areas where food can get trapped.

What if popcorn gets stuck in my braces?

First try to dislodge the stuck kernel using your tongue or gently flossing it out. Be careful not to cut your gums. If a piece remains stuck:

  1. Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  2. Floss thoroughly around the area.
  3. Use an interdental cleaner or small dental tool to try prying it out.
  4. As a last resort, call your orthodontist to remove it.

Leaving popcorn or other foods stuck in braces increases your risk of cavities, gum disease and other oral health problems. Get it removed as soon as possible.

Can popcorn shift or break braces?

Yes, popcorn can both shift and break orthodontic appliances. Problems that may occur include:

  • Broken wires – Hard popcorn kernels can snap metal wires.
  • Bent brackets – Brackets can get bent out of place while chewing kernels.
  • Loose bands – Bands around molars may loosen or detach from eating popcorn.
  • Shifted teeth – Without wires intact, teeth begin shifting out of alignment.
  • Poking wires – Broken poke and scratch the inside of the mouth.

This damage to braces will likely extend overall treatment time. It also causes discomfort and may require emergency orthodontic repairs.

Healthier popcorn alternatives

If you’re craving popcorn, consider these healthier alternatives that are safer to eat with braces:

  • Popcorn balls – Made with melted marshmallows to hold kernels together.
  • Yogurt-covered popcorn – Yogurt makes kernels less likely to get stuck.
  • Popcorn bars – Granola bars with popcorn mixed in.
  • Popcorn seasoning – Sprinkle on other snack foods.
  • Popped corn chips – Chips made from puffed corn.
  • Corn nuts – Whole roasted or fried corn kernels.

Choosing alternative popcorn snacks can satisfy your craving while keeping your braces intact.

Popcorn precautions with lingual braces

Lingual braces are affixed to the back of your teeth rather than the front. This makes them less visible but harder to clean around.

Extra care must be taken when eating popcorn with lingual braces. The wired cannot be accessed as easily to dislodge any trapped kernels.

After eating popcorn, carefully floss behind each tooth. Use an interdental cleaner to polish beneath the wires. See your orthodontist immediately if any food gets stuck.

Avoiding popcorn altogether is the safest option for keeping lingual braces free of debris.

Popcorn precautions with clear aligner therapy

Clear aligners like Invisalign are a removable plastic tray alternative to traditional braces. As they can be taken out, aligners make eating popcorn slightly easier.

However, you still need to be mindful when eating popcorn with Invisalign or other clear aligner brands. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove aligners before eating.
  2. Floss and brush after eating popcorn.
  3. Rinse aligners before putting them back in.
  4. Clean aligners daily.
  5. Avoid popcorn if wearing aligners 22+ hours per day.

The removable nature of clear aligner therapy makes popcorn a lower risk snack. But kernels can still get lodged in teeth, so flossing is a must.

Does eating popcorn break braces brackets?

Yes, the hard kernels of popcorn can absolutely break brackets on braces. Brackets are the small squares affixed to each tooth that hold the wires in place. They are typically made of ceramic or metal.

Popcorn can break brackets in a few different ways:

  • Chomping down directly on kernels
  • Kernels getting wedged underneath brackets
  • Repeated abrasion while chewing

Braces weaken bracket glue over time also. So even a small amount of pressure from chewing popcorn may cause damaged brackets to detach.

If brackets break, immediate orthodontic repair is needed. Otherwise teeth will begin shifting out of alignment. Temporary adhesive can be used to reattach brackets until you can see an orthodontist.

How long after getting braces can I eat popcorn?

It’s generally recommended to wait at least 1-2 weeks after initially getting braces before eating popcorn. This allows time for:

  • Mouth to adjust to braces
  • Teeth to begin settling into proper alignment
  • Oral tissues to toughen up and reduce injury risk

During the first couple weeks, the wires are also typically kept tighter to align teeth more aggressively. This makes breakage more likely if eating hard foods like popcorn.

The first 24-48 hours are spent letting the cement fully cure as well. Brackets are adhered to teeth with a strong glue. Chewing hard foods too soon can knock brackets loose.

Talk to your orthodontist before eating popcorn after getting braces. Wait until tissues have adjusted and initial alignment is complete.


Eating popcorn with braces requires some precautions but doesn’t have to be avoided completely. Cook popcorn thoroughly, floss diligently afterwards and take care chewing to reduce risks. For less hazard, choose a healthier popped corn alternative snack.

With some mindfulness and extra cleaning, you can still enjoy an occasional popcorn treat without damaging your orthodontic appliances.

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