Teenagers, this one is for you.

Did you know that 50% – 70% of all American kids age 16-18 will wear braces? That’ means that over half of your friends will have crooked, overlapping, over spaced, or crowded teeth that need to be fixed. You’re not alone! So how do they seem to get along with their braces so well when you can’t help but feeling that irritating metal in your mouth all day, pulling and pulling? It’s not as hard as it sounds!

1) Avoid Hard, Sticky, Crunchy, or Chewy

Sorry kids, this is the big one, so we’re addressing it first. Those brackets that are bound to your teeth? They can pop off if you stress em’ out enough. Don’t eat these things:

  • Apples: Don’t bite into a whole one! Cut it into thin wedges first.
  • Bagels and hard rolls: Convicted culprits of bending wires and loosening brackets.
  • Beef jerky: Your braces don’t stand a chance against this leathery food.
  • Bubblegum: Trust us, there’s nothing worse than spending hours picking gum from your braces.
  • Candy canes or suckers: You might weaken and take a bite!
  • Caramels and chewy candies: And you thought bubble gum was messy.
  • Chicken wings: You can enjoy these if you first cut the meat off the bone.
  • Corn chips: Anything that crunches when you bite it is bad news for braces.
  • Corn on the cob: If you must, remove the kernels from the cob with a knife, then enjoy!
  • Fingernails: Now’s the perfect time to kick that bad habit.
  • Fruit Roll-Ups: See bubble gum.
  • Gummi anything: See bubble gum.
  • Hard candies: Can loosen wires and dislodge brackets.
  • Hard cookies: Good news: You can have these if you soften them with milk.
  • Ice cubes: No crunching!
  • Nuts: All varieties—including peanuts, cashews and almonds—are off limits.
  • Pears: Just like you would with apples, cut them into thin wedges first.
  • Peanut brittle: Anything that crunches when you bite it is bad news for braces.
  • Pens and pencils: Don’t laugh, a lot of students can’t stop chewing on these inedible school supplies.
  • Pickles: If you have a craving, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Popcorn: Great with movies, bad with braces.
  • Pizza Crust: Good news: the rest of the pie is fine!
  • Pretzels: Bends wires, loosens bands, and knocks off brackets
  • Raw carrots: If you have a Bugs Bunny-like adoration for these orange veggies, steam or boil them for a much less crunchy consistency.
  • Ribs: Just like you would with chicken wings, take the meat off the bone first.
  • Sugary candy: Can lodge beneath brackets and wires, leading to tooth decay.
  • Taffy:: It’s best to avoid this stuff entirely—even if you don’t have braces!

-List courtesy parenthood.com

No one ever said they were easy, but trust us, a mouth that’s straight is worth it in the end.

2) You Gotta Brush Differently

Remember everything you learned about brushing your teeth your entire life? Time to change that! So what do you do now? Easy!

  1. Remove elastics or any other removable parts before starting.
  2. Clean the braces first. Put your toothbrush at a 45˚ angle to your brackets and wires and brush in tiny little circles. Give it about 10 seconds in each section.
  3. Brush your teeth. Standard toothbrushing skills apply.
  4. Floss once a day with super floss, your dentist should go over this with you but make sure you ask if they don’t!
  5. Rinse. Just do it.

3) Don’t Mess With It

If you put your braces on yourself, go ahead and make your adjustments. If instead, someone who has paid many thousands of dollars for schooling, training, re-training, equipment, practice licences, etc. has put them on, don’t do anything unless they tell you to!

No, it’s not paranoid, it’s professional.

4) It Will Be Uncomfortable, and That’s Okay

Most of the time people tell you “what to do” with braces and not how to feel, and that’s only half the story. Braces are a big life change, and change is uncomfortable. You will wonder what you look like in front of people, you will have a new, sore, pulling feeling in your mouth. It’s not going to be the best time of your life, but it’s not the worst either.

Remember that this is all going to be worth the time and uncomfortably put into it. Your teeth will be straight and healthy.

During this time, though, your friends will still love you. You will grow accustomed to the feeling in your mouth. You will survive the diet change. You will make it.

Don’t let it control you, and smile 🙂

Wrap Up

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