What ice cream is for braces?

Having braces can make enjoying treats like ice cream more difficult. The cold temperature and sugary ingredients can cause pain and discomfort in your teeth and gums. However, not all ice cream is off limits with braces. By choosing the right texture and ingredients, you can still enjoy this sweet frozen dessert during orthodontic treatment.

Soft, Non-Sticky Ice Cream is Best

The texture of ice cream can make all the difference when you have braces. Sticky, chewy ice creams can get stuck in the wires and bands of your braces, causing pain and even loosened brackets. Instead, your best bet is to choose ice creams that have a soft, smooth texture that won’t adhere to your orthodontic hardware.

Look for ice creams labeled “soft serve” or milkshakes. The process of churning these products incorporates extra air, giving them a lighter, less sticky consistency. Ice cream with mix-ins like cookies or candy should also be avoided as they can increase stickiness.

You’ll want to steer clear of hard ice cream products like popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, or ice cream on a stick. The hardness of these frozen treats makes them more likely to cause damage by putting excess pressure on your braces.

Go for Low Sugar Ice Creams

Sugar is another ingredient to watch out for with braces. While small amounts of sugar are okay, large amounts can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and enamel damage around your brackets.

Aim for light, low sugar, or no sugar added ice cream varieties. Look at the nutrition label and choose options that have about 5-6 grams of sugar per serving or less. Good low sugar ice cream flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, lemon, mango, and other fruit flavors.

You’ll want to avoid extra sugary kinds like cookies and cream, rocky road, cake batter, and cotton candy. The higher sugar content and mix-ins make these more likely to stick to your orthodontic appliances.

Watch Out for Acidic Ice Creams

Acidic ingredients are one more thing to keep in mind when picking ice cream with braces. High acid foods and drinks can erode enamel over time. Weakened enamel is more susceptible to staining and damage around orthodontic brackets.

Some acidic ice cream flavors to limit include:

  • Lemon sorbet
  • Orange sherbet
  • Mango sorbet
  • Raspberry sherbet
  • Lime sherbet
  • Grape sorbet

These fruity ice creams often contain higher amounts of citric and other acids that can be harsh on your tooth enamel. Tart yogurt flavors can also have a similar effect.

Dairy-Free Ice Cream

If you have an allergy or intolerance to dairy, you may need to opt for non-dairy ice cream with your braces. The good news is that dairy-free ice creams have advanced a lot in recent years. There are many tasty options made from plant-based ingredients like:

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk

Focus on dairy-free ice creams with a smooth, creamy consistency and minimal added sugar. Top non-dairy picks include:

  • Coconut milk-based ice cream
  • Almond milk ice cream
  • Oat milk ice cream
  • Fruit-based ice cream
  • Sorbet

Portion Control

One final tip when eating ice cream with braces is to practice portion control. It’s easy to overindulge in this tasty treat, but too much ice cream can lead to cavities and other oral health issues.

Stick to a half cup serving size or smaller. Eat ice cream as part of a meal, rather than on its own as a snack or dessert. Slow down and savor each bite, which will help prevent overeating.

Also, be sure to rinse your mouth or brush after eating ice cream to wash away any remnants left behind on your braces.

Recommended Ice Cream Flavors

Keeping these tips in mind, here are some of the best ice cream flavors to enjoy in moderation with braces:

Ice Cream Type Recommended Flavors
Regular ice cream Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, mint chocolate chip
Gelato Pistachio, hazelnut, chocolate chip
Frozen yogurt Plain tart frozen yogurt, blueberry, mango
Non-dairy Almond milk vanilla, coconut milk chocolate, oat milk berry swirl
Sorbet Raspberry, lemon, mango

When purchasing ice cream for braces, read ingredient labels carefully and select products that are low in sugar and acidity. Ask your orthodontist if you have any doubts about a specific flavor.

Avoid These Ice Creams

On the flip side, here are some ice cream varieties that are best avoided entirely while you have braces:

  • Rocky road – contains nuts and marshmallows that can adhere to braces
  • Cookies and cream – cookie chunks can damage braces
  • Mint chocolate chip – mint flavor may irritate braces
  • Coffee chip – can stain orthodontic brackets
  • Butter pecan – contains hard nuts
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough – thick dough sticks to braces
  • Fudge brownie – contains chewy brownie chunks
  • Banana split – high sugar content

The chunks, syrups, and excessive sugar in these ice creams make them a less than ideal choice. Stick to softer, low sugar options or dairy-free ice cream to safely enjoy this cool treat with braces.

Tips for Eating Ice Cream With Braces

Aside from choosing the right ice cream flavor, following these tips can make eating ice cream more comfortable with braces:

  • Take small bites and chew slowly
  • Allow ice cream to soften before eating if too hard
  • Rinse mouth with water after eating
  • Brush and floss after eating to remove debris
  • Avoid biting into whole nuts, cookies, or candy in ice cream
  • Use a spoon or small ice cream scoop instead of a biting down on a cone
  • Eat ice cream as part of a meal, not on its own
  • Wait until any soreness in your teeth subsides before eating ice cream

Preventing Damage

While orthodontic brackets are designed to withstand normal chewing forces, the wires and bands can still be susceptible to damage. Here are some tips to help prevent broken appliances and injury from eating ice cream with braces:

  • Avoid very hard, frozen ice cream straight from the freezer
  • Inspect food before putting it in your mouth and remove any hard chunks
  • Cut up large mix-in pieces like cookies or brownies
  • Remove any food trapped on wires or brackets after eating
  • Visit your orthodontist right away if you damage brackets while eating

Exercising caution and making smart flavor choices can allow you to integrate ice cream into your diet safely. But if eating it causes continual problems, you may need to avoid it until after your braces are removed.

After Braces Removal

Once your braces are finally removed, you’ll have more freedom with your ice cream choices. However, it’s still smart practice to continue limiting sugary, acidic, and sticky ice cream varieties as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

Your teeth will be more susceptible to cavities and enamel damage after brace removal, so overindulging in ice cream isn’t a good idea right away. But you can certainly broaden your options beyond the orthodontic-friendly flavors.

Key Takeaways

Here are some key tips to remember about eating ice cream with braces:

  • Choose soft, smooth textures that won’t adhere to braces
  • Look for low sugar ice creams under 6 grams per serving
  • Limit acidic flavors like citrus sorbets
  • Stick to a half cup serving size or less
  • Read labels and avoid ice creams with chunky mix-ins
  • Rinse your mouth after eating ice cream
  • Visit your orthodontist if you have any problems from eating ice cream

By following these guidelines, you can keep your braces clean and undamaged while still enjoying ice cream in moderation. The key is to be selective about flavors and mindful about portions.


Although ice cream is not off limits for those with braces, it does require some special considerations. Choosing softer textures low in sugar is key, as well as avoiding acidic or sticky varieties that can adhere to orthodontic hardware. Take small bites, rinse after eating, and use portion control. With some adjustments to your ice cream habits, you can balance this sweet treat with the needs of your braces.

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