Braces 101

Living with braces

Foods to Avoid

Hard and sticky foods can break off brackets, bend wires, and loosen bands, which will extend your total treatment time. Foods high in sugar can cause cavities, calculus build-up, and ugly, permanent stains on your teeth.

So what can you do? Limit your diet to softer, healthy foods.

No-No List

Here are some examples of foods that must be avoided during orthodontic treatment:

Ice, nuts, popcorn, peanut brittle, rock candy, apples and carrots (unless cut into pieces,) corn on the cob, hard pretzels, hard rolls, bagels, hard tacos and corn chips.

Hard, sticky candy such as Jolly Ranchers, caramels, bubble gum, taffy, suckers, chewy candies such as Starburst, Dots or other jelly candies.

Pizza crust, crusty breads, beef jerky, gummy bears or gummy anything.

Cake, ice cream, cookies, pie, candy, soda pop, and drinks with sugar.

Also, do not chew on pens, pencils, fingernails or other hard objects. Please use your common sense when deciding which foods you should eat and those to be avoided.

What foods can I eat?

When braces are first placed or after an orthodontic adjustment, your teeth will be sore when you chew. Stick to soft foods such as:

  • Soup
  • Pasta
  • Pancakes

  • Eggs

  • Macaroni and cheese

  • Yogurt

  • Jell-O
  • Milkshakes, etc.

Or you can always eat Dr. Cusack’s personal favorite – mashed potatoes. After a few days, you’ll be eating a pretty normal diet again.


For some contact sports, we recommend using a mouth guard that allows tooth movement to continue while protecting the skin tissue from getting impinged in the braces from hits to the head.

Never use the boil and bite mouth guards with braces as your braces may get stuck when you bite into the mouth guard.

Dr. Cusack has mouth guards at his office or you can buy them at sports stores.

Musical Instruments

Dr. Cusack informs his instrument-playing patients that woodwind players may have slightly more difficulty than brass instrument players.

Every musician seems to adapt very well to playing with braces after a week or two of practice.

Some of them find that placing wax on the brackets is helpful during the initial adjustment period. If a patient is a “First Chair” player, some extra practice will ensure that they are conditioned to playing with braces and maintain that high level.


Retainers are made of a thermoplastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat, so they should be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, car dashboards or any place where the temperatures exceed 115 degrees(F).

The retainers should be cleaned before and after placement in the mouth. Because the material used for fabrication is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces of the retainer. Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush and a mild liquid soap will remove the plaque.

A denture cleaning solution, such as Efferdent, will aid in the removal of plaque and tartar. Be sure to rinse the retainer thoroughly after cleaning to remove any cleanser residue.

Here Are A Few Things to Remember During the Years of Retainer Wear:

  • Don’t fold it in your napkin or leave it on the table at a restaurant. Garbage cans don’t make happy hunting grounds.
  • Don’t put your retainer in your pocket. You might sit on it and break it.
  • Take your retainer out when swimming in a lake or ocean. If it falls out you may not be able to find it. The same goes for a swimming pool depending on the size of the pool.
  • Animals and younger children love to play with it. Please make sure your retainer is in your mouth at all times. Your retainer should only be out of your mouth when brushing or eating.
  • Your lower retainer may be a fixed retainer bonded onto your teeth. It is not considered permanent and can be broken or detached from your teeth, if you are not careful with it.

  • Bring your retainers to your check-up appointment. If anything happens to your retainers (i.e. it doesn’t fit, it’s broken, or it’s lost) please call us ASAP. If your lower bonded retainer wire comes out, keep it and bring it in at your next appointment for rebonding.
  • The first set of retainers is included in your treatment fee. Any repair, replacement of your retainer, or rebonding of your lower retainer will be additional and charged to your account.
  • Keep things clean! Be sure to brush your teeth without your retainers in. Do not boil your retainer or put it in hot water. Brush your retainer with a toothbrush using toothpaste or water.