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How to Navigate the Holidays With Braces or Aligners

By December 14, 2022Blog

How to Navigate the Holidays With Braces or Aligners

The lights, the cheer, the family gatherings…what’s not to love about the holidays? But before you dig into the candy canes or hit up the veggie platter, let’s talk about how to navigate the holidays with braces or clear aligners. In this post, I’ll be sharing some simple tips for enjoying the season, while keeping your appliance and holiday spirit intact. 

1. Stay Strong in the Face of Tempting Treats 

While most of your holiday favorites will still be on the menu, there are a few foods to avoid with braces. You’ll want to steer clear of anything really hard, chewy or sticky, including:

  • Nuts and food with nuts in it
  • Meat on the bone (off the bone is a-okay)
  • Hard fruits and veggies like whole, raw apples and raw carrots
  • Brittle 
  • Popcorn
  • Hard gingerbread cookies
  • Hard candy, such as candy canes
  • Sticky candies like caramels and toffee

Eating these foods with braces can result in a broken bracket or bent wire and the need to come into the office for a repair appointment. And while it’s always a fun time at Fresh Orthodontics, I know you’d rather be with friends and family during your holiday break.

If you find it hard to say no to peanut brittle or grandma’s pecan pie, keep in mind that it’s temporary and the end results will make the sacrifice totally worth it. Soon enough, not only will you have a fantastic smile, you’ll also be able to eat whatever you want. 

Eating with clear aligners doesn’t require as much thought. Just be diligent about taking your Invisalign® or Spark™ Aligners out before meals and snacks. As long as you do that, there are no food restrictions. 

2. Focus on the Holiday Foods You Can Eat With Braces

The good news is while there are a few things you can’t eat, there are so many more foods you can eat with braces. In fact, most holidays, including Christmas and Hanukkah, are all about comfort food like mashed potatoes, brisket and cranberry sauce, which are all excellent soft foods for braces. 

Some other braces-friendly holiday foods include:

  • Fork-tender meat, off the bone, such as turkey, ham, beef, chicken and lamb
  • Soft-cooked fish and seafood
  • Roasted or baked potatoes and vegetables
  • Creamed corn
  • Green bean casserole (without almonds)
  • Latkes
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Soup
  • Biscuits
  • Soft rolls
  • Cooked grains
  • Stuffing (without nuts)
  • Quiche
  • Fruit pies (apple, cherry, pumpkin, etc.)
  • Donuts
  • Soft-baked cookies

The list could go on, but you get the picture. To make everything easy on your braces, cut or break food into bitesize pieces and chew with your back teeth. 

3. Brush, Floss, Spread Cheer, Repeat 

Food and plaque love to nestle into the nooks and crannies of braces, which makes you susceptible to white spots on your teeth and cavities if you don’t practice good oral hygiene. 

And people with clear aligners aren’t off the hook either. If you put your aligners in when your teeth aren’t clean, your aligners will trap food debris and bacteria beneath them, also increasing your risk of cavities.

As my team and I tell all of our Brooklyn braces and Spark Aligners patients, floss once daily and brush your teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. After brushing, rinse your aligners off too. 

4. Be Savvy About Sipping 

Eggnog, apple cider, hot chocolate, mulled wine…all delicious and all high in sugar. While it’s fine to enjoy festive beverages, here’s how to keep your smile in tip-top shape in the process:

  • Take clear aligners out before drinking anything aside from plain water. Beverages can stain your aligners if you have them in and liquid will get trapped beneath the plastic and sit on the teeth. 
  • Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking water helps to wash away food bits and cavity-causing acids and stimulates saliva production, which remineralizes the enamel. 
  • Minimize the time your teeth are in contact with sugary and acidic drinks. Don’t slowly sip on beverages throughout the day. Instead, drink them in one sitting, preferably with a larger meal. Bonus points if you occasionally alternate sips of water with the drink. 
  • After having a drink, rinse your mouth out with water. 

5. Bring a Travel Kit With You When You’re On the Go 

For a lot of people, the holiday season means being constantly on the go, whether traveling, attending parties, or taking advantage of the holiday fun in Brooklyn. Put together a clear aligner or braces kit that you can grab when you leave the house. This will ensure you’re able to brush your teeth after eating and handle any issues. 

Here’s what to put in your braces travel kit:

  • A travel toothbrush
  • Travel-sized toothpaste
  • Interproximal brushes
  • Orthodontic flossers
  • Braces wax
  • A small mirror
  • And if you use rubber bands, pack extras

Here’s what to put in your Invisalign or Spark Aligners kit:

  • Your aligner case (put your aligners in their case whenever you’re not wearing them!)
  • A travel toothbrush
  • Travel-sized toothpaste
  • Floss
  • A small mirror
  • Chewies or bite sticks

6. Follow Your Treatment Plan 

With all of the excitement of the holidays, it’s easy to get sidetracked. But your new smile will be the best gift of all, so stick to the treatment plan. This means wearing your aligners for about 22 hours per day and moving on to the next set according to your wear schedule. 

If you have braces rubber bands, or elastics, follow our instructions for wearing and changing them too. This way you’ll finish your treatment on time and with the best possible results. 

Schedule a Complimentary Consultation With a Brooklyn Orthodontist

As you can see, it’s not about how to survive the holidays with braces or clear aligners, but about how to enjoy the festivities and food in a way that keeps your treatment on track. 

If you haven’t started your smile journey yet, treat yourself to a free exam and personalized treatment recommendations by scheduling a complimentary consultation at Fresh Orthodontics in Park Slope.

Lastly, I’m thrilled to announce that Fresh Orthodontics was nominated for a 2023 Best of Brooklyn award! Voting is open until December 31 and only takes a minute. Cast your vote here to help us win Brooklyn’s Best Orthodontic Practice for the fourth year in a row. We appreciate your support. 

Happy holidays!