There are many foods you can and can't eat with braces, but eating candy when you have braces is specifically not recommended for a number of reasons. Understanding why and how eating candy when you have braces will hurt your chances of having successful orthodontic treatment, thus affecting the health of your teeth and gums in the long run, will hopefully help diminish your cravings for sweet treats while you have braces; and hopefully beyond your orthodontic treatment as well.
It's All About the SugarFor starters, let's take a look at the obvious. Candy is loaded with sugar, which is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are what fuel the bacteria on your teeth to produce acids that cause tooth decay to form. For a tooth without braces, candy is a large threat. Now add in the brackets and bands onto your teeth, which are a necessity during your orthodontic treatment, and your teeth most certainly will be facing a nightmare of tooth decay. When you incorporate additional sugar to your diet, along with the difficulty of reaching every surface of the tooth and around the bracket and band attachments with your toothbrush and floss, avoiding candy certainly outweighs giving into a tempting piece of candy.
Sticky, Hard, Gooey Gooey - It's All the SameCandy can be found in a number of different forms, but it's really all the same when you consider eating candy with braces. From hard mint-type candies, to sticky toffee and gooey chocolate bars, candy does mass amounts of damage to your braces, regardless of what form it comes in.
When you bite into a hard or sticky piece of candy without braces, your tooth is stressed by the force it takes to break down and chew the piece of candy. With braces or your teeth, biting into a hard piece of candy will put additional force onto the bracket or band attachment, along with the tooth. More often than not, the bracket or band will succumb to the force it takes to eat the candy, and they will break or "pop" off. When a bracket or band becomes loose, your orthodontic treatment comes to a screeching halt until you are able to see your dentist or orthodontist to have he problem repaired. For most patients, a loose band or bracket will set their treatment back one to two months.
Ouch That Hurts!Cavities hurt your teeth, that is an obvious fact, but what isn't so obvious is how all of the hard, sticky, gooey candy can hurt your teeth in other ways. I have already mentioned the force and effort it takes to devour really sticky and hard candy. Aside from damaging your braces, imaging how your teeth feel after an archwire adjustment. Most of you with braces will know exactly what I'm talking about, but for those of you new to braces, your teeth are usually very sensitive and ache while you have your braces on your teeth, especially after an archwire adjustment. Now picture yourself trying to bite into a piece of hard candy. Your teeth will scream in horror because they are very sensitive to pressure.
Consider AlternativesEnjoying a piece of candy is not worth the pain and anguish that comes with these hard-to-resist treats, but there are alternatives to candy that can help to satisfy your sweet tooth while staying friendly to your teeth. It is generally okay to enjoy something sweet from time-to-time because let's face it, sweets are a part of life. If you find yourself really craving something sweet to eat, put down the candy and consider baking or preparing something sweet from a braces-friendly recipe book. Once your sweet tooth has finally been put to rest, always ensure that you are brushing and flossing immediately after consuming sugars.
The American Association of Orthodontists. Press Release: "Braces-Wearers Beware: Certain Sweet Treats Can Bite Back." http://www.braces.org/NOHM/Press-Releases.cfm. Accessed: October 5, 2010