You’re in your favorite store near the checkout, and there is a whole rack of pure joy (candy) just waiting for you to choose the right one. But, what candies are safe for braces? As you reach for your favorite pack of gum, candy bar, or bag of fruit chews, you’re forced to stop because you have forgotten one important detail: you wear braces. Unfortunately, you leave the store without so much as a smirk.
Thankfully there is hope: braces don’t have to mean you can’t experience the satisfaction of the occasional sugar rush from a bite of candy. It may require a small lifestyle change, but knowing what candies are safe to eat with braces and what candies you can not eat with braces can help you calm your craving without causing you extra visits to the orthodontist.
Candies to Avoid When Wearing Braces
You may be asking yourself if some of your favorite candies are on your orthodontist’s banned list. You might be wondering things like “can you eat Sour Patch Kids with braces” or “can you eat Airheads with braces?”. You might even be wondering what the worst candy to eat with braces might be.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way. While you can still enjoy some sweets, you still need to keep gooey, sticky, chewy, and hard candies off the list. These types of candies can cause damage to not only your braces but the very teeth they are helping realign. Taking a chance on candies such as these can cause bent wires, leave candy stuck in places it shouldn’t be, or even damage and loosen the brackets holding your wires in place.
Sure, caramel is a delicious treat and complements many other sweets, but this sticky, chewy treat is one to avoid. Whether it is in your favorite candy bar, coating an apple, or simply caramel squares themselves, you will have a hard time keeping your braces clean and safe when eating caramel. Just a note: you’ll also want to skip eating whole apples, caramel-dipped or not, and slice apples thinly while wearing braces.
Whether you’re a fan of the fruitier varieties like Skittles, Airheads, Twizzlers, Mambas, Starburst, Laffy Taffy, jelly beans, or gummy bears, or you are keener on Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Daddies, or Milk Duds, there is a level of satisfaction chewing on these flavor-packed candies brings. Unfortunately, these will wreak havoc on your braces, so it is best to leave them alone. Chewy candies can bend wires, loosen brackets, pull bands away from the teeth, and cause pain and discomfort until you can visit your orthodontist.
Gum is in this category as well. In fact, gum is often worse than chewy candies because you keep it in your mouth and chew it for an extended period of time.
The definition of hard candies can be quite broad. Some may have a hard exterior and a soft interior like Skittles (yes, these are both hard and chewy), and others may be considered hard candy but remain crunchy enough to bite like Nerds, Sweet Tarts, or Runts. Perhaps the best-known types of hard candies are designed to melt in your mouth like Jolly Ranchers, Lifesavers, and JawBreakers.
While chewable hard candies like Sweet Tarts and Skittles aren’t quite as hard as other candies, they can easily loosen brackets, disturb bands, and bend wires. If you choose to hold a traditional hard candy in your mouth and let it melt away, you still risk damaging your brackets or wires, and the prolonged sugar contact with your teeth can endanger your oral health. If you’re like many people, you may still be prone to biting down on the hard candy.
Candy with Nuts
There are plenty of candies out there that combine the saltiness of nuts with the sweetness of sugar. These candies can come in different forms and include chopped nuts, whole nuts, or peanut butter. The way the nuts are integrated into the candy is vital to its safety with your braces. Candies with chopped or whole nuts, such as Snickers, Almond Joy, Peanut M&Ms, and Mr. Goodbar are the types to avoid. However, if the nuts are in a paste form, like in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, your braces may be safe.
Refrigerated or Frozen Candies
Some things just taste better cold and with a little added crunch to them. In fact, many people enjoy freezing candies like Twix, Snickers, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – and manufacturers even make ice cream varieties of many popular candy bars to cash in on the trend. This maneuver hardens the chocolate, nougat, caramel, and nuts, making them even more dangerous for wires and brackets.
What Candy Can You Eat When Wearing Braces?
At this point, you may feel disheartened because many of your favorites are likely on the avoid list. Ease the tension between you and your sweet tooth with these candies that will curb your cravings and be safe for your braces.
Chocolates and Candy Bars
This category of candies will give braces wearers something to smile about. Individually wrapped chocolates or soft truffles are one of the easiest ways to keep snacking. While you’ll still need to avoid chocolates with nuts, heavy caramels, or overly crunchy ingredients, feel free to grab a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, a Peppermint Patty, a Hershey’s Kiss, or even a Lindor Truffle.
Spun and Powdered Candy
So, what sour candy can you eat with braces? Try some of these pure sugar rushes, like Pixy Stix, Fun Dip, and cotton candy. From powdery packets to light and fluffy clouds of sugar, many of these candies are relatively safe for braces wearers. No matter what you use for your fix, make sure if it’s a Fun Dip, you skip the stick. Similarly, Pop Rocks can be okay if you don’t crunch them between your teeth and simply let them fizz away in your mouth.
This breaks the rules a little because marshmallows are considered chewy, but they are softer and easier to clean away from braces than other sticky candies. From Peeps to Stuffed Puffs, there are plenty of ways that you can experience these little white puffs. Even toasted marshmallows can be a go as long as you rinse after eating.
Cookies, Wafers, and Brownies
These aren’t technically candies, but they fall into the sweet category. Whether you have a favorite family recipe or you pick up your favorite at the store, cookies, brownies, and wafers that avoid problematic ingredients like nuts and caramel can make the perfect sweet snack. Err on the side of caution, however, and stick to styles that are softer and avoid overly crunchy textures that could be damaging. If you absolutely have to have your favorite crunchy cookie, consider taking it for a swim in a glass of milk before you do.
Pudding and Jello
If you’re still struggling to find a sweet treat that is compatible with your braces, pudding and Jello may be just what you need. These soft treats are easy to consume and provide just the right amount of sweetness. Sure, eating pudding in a cup makes sense, but when it comes to Jello, have a little fun. Pour the Jello into a cookie tray (use the Jigglers recipe on the side of the box), let it set, and use your favorite cookie cutters to create some fun.
Of course, as with anything, candy should be consumed in moderation. Dark chocolates are a source of iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and flavonols. These contents help dark chocolate have a positive impact on the heart. These benefits include reducing insulin sensitivity and decreasing blood pressure. Additionally, dark chocolate, like red wine, contains phenol, which is an antioxidant.
Caring for Your Braces
There are a few easy steps that will not only keep your braces functioning well and moving your teeth into the desired positions but also help you avoid the cavity and gum problems you risk while eating candy.
Common care steps for braces include the following:
Brushing at least twice a day for two minutes at a time will help you keep the food debris and residues from setting in on your teeth. To effectively do this, be sure to remove any rubber bands you may have attached and utilize a soft-bristled brush. Be sure to brush in a circular motion and gently brush above and below the wires.
Use Floss and Mouthwash
As a candy aficionado, you already know that sugar particles will creep into every crevice. Flossing, particularly with a floss threader, will help ensure you get every nook and cranny. Rinsing with mouthwash will take care of any little bits that have been dislodged in the brushing and flossing process. Take extra care to rinse after soft candies like marshmallows.
Invest in a Waterpik
Using a Waterpik cannot replace the use of floss, but it can help with ensuring the cleanliness of your teeth. Sugars, in particular, are dissolvable in water, and this could help you clean out any leftovers that you are unable to see. Use a Waterpik after meals and after sugary snacks.
Check the Mirror
When you have finished your cleaning routine, be sure to smile in the mirror to check your work. Spot-check for food and candy debris trapped in wires and brackets, and ensure your braces are still firmly in place. Besides, everyone deserves a smile every day, so be the first to spread a little joy into your life.
Consult Robison for Safe-to-Eat Candies and More
If you have a sweet tooth, braces could leave you feeling distressed and dissatisfied. However, the rumor that you’ll need to give up candy completely is a myth. You’ll just need to take care to eat only safe candies and avoid those that can get stuck in your braces or dislodge your hardware. Then, you’ll need to clean your teeth and braces thoroughly after you’re finished.
Dr. Tyler Robison is an alum of Mesa’s Mountain View High School. He graduated from Brigham Young University before being accepted to the “Top Ten-nationally ranked” University of Louisville in Kentucky, where he earned his Doctorate in Dental Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Oral Biology. He graduated with honors in the top ten percent of his class. Dr. Robison continued at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco, where he received a second master’s degree in dental science and his orthodontic certification.