5 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids With Braces
Now that fall is here, many kids are back into the school year routine of coming home and grabbing an after-school snack. But if your child or teen is new to braces, it takes some extra thought to come up with snacks that are braces-friendly.
To help you, Dr. Anand Patel at The Brace Place has a wealth of snack ideas for kids with braces. As an orthodontic specialist of nearly 20 years, he’s helped countless kids get their dream smiles so he knows a thing or two about braces-friendly foods. But, wait! Before we dive into snack suggestions, let’s start with a quick refresher about which foods to avoid with braces and which foods are okay to eat.
Foods to Avoid with Braces
Wearing braces means a slight change in eating habits, but the reward is a beautiful smile for the rest of your child’s life! So what foods can they not eat with braces while waiting for their new smile? Crunchy, hard, sticky or chewy foods should be off limits. These foods can damage or even break braces, possibly resulting in a treatment delay or wearing braces for longer.
Foods to avoid with braces include:
- Bagels and pizza crust
- Chips, popcorn, and hard taco shells
- Chewing gum
- Licorice, gummies, and hard candies
- Anything you have to bite into like apples, carrots, or corn on the cob
Foods to Eat with Braces
It might seem like a long list of foods your kids can’t eat but think of all the foods they can! Consider soft foods, which are gentle on braces, and cold foods which soothe teeth new to braces or teeth that feel sensitive from adjustments. Here’s a starting list of the many foods you can eat with braces:
- Smoothies, applesauce, and milkshakes
- Pasta, noodles, and rice
- Quinoa and couscous
- Steamed, cooked, or roasted veggies
- Soft fruits
- Soups and stews
- Eggs, fish, and tofu
Snacks Ideas for Kids with Braces
Now that you’re caught up on what your kids can and can’t eat with braces, let’s get back to talking about healthy snack ideas for kids with braces.
Fruits and Veg in Bite-Sized Pieces
Soft fruits like bananas are an easy snack. Or make fruit salad ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a few days’ worth of nutrient-packed snacking. Cut up your kids’ favorite fruits into small, bite-sized chunks for easy eating with braces. You can even include harder fruits like apples if you cut them small — they’re safer for braces if they’re in bite-sized pieces.
As a bonus, many braces-friendly fruits are also foods that can whiten your teeth: strawberries contain a stain-fighting enzyme called malic acid. And the tartness in citrus fruits causes extra saliva production which helps wash away sticky, stain-causing bacteria and sugar.
Cooked veggies — maybe from dinner the night before — are great soft snacks for those with braces. Plus, you get to use up leftovers!
The unicorn of healthy eating, smoothies are a definite go-to snack for kids with braces. With an endless amount of ingredient combinations, you can easily find a smoothie recipe (or make up one yourself) that your kids will love. A smoothie gives your braces-wearing kids the vitamins, minerals, protein they need all in one go. Our pick is this blueberry smoothie found on All Recipes.
Cheese, Yogurt, and Cottage Cheese
As soft snacks for kids with braces, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese add calcium, vitamin D and protein to your after-school menu and help keep teeth healthy. In fact, studies have shown that children who eat cheese get less cavities! And if your kid or teen is concerned about keeping their teeth stain-free, cheese is one of the foods that can whiten teeth. Cubes of cheddar, mozzarella, or gouda help clear out mouth sugars and bacteria that can cause stains and tooth decay.
Yogurt is a great soft snack for braces-wearers — cold and soothing for sensitive teeth. It’s also considered one of the foods that whitens teeth: research suggests that the protein in yogurt binds to teeth, fighting against acids that cause cavities. Be sure your yogurt doesn’t have too much sugar or you’ll counteract its stain-fighting benefits.
Better yet, make a yogurt parfait for after-school snacking: layers of plain yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola are healthy, satisfying, and yummy. Pro tip? Let the granola soften in the yogurt so it doesn’t damage braces or get stuck in the wires.
And cottage cheese? Pair it with pear, peach, or cantaloupe for a soft, dessert-like snack that’s sure to get a thumbs up from kids with braces.
Energy Balls: A Healthy Alternative to Fruit Snacks
Some Tulsa and Claremore parents have asked us, “Can my child eat fruit snacks with braces?” If you’re talking the prepackaged kind, we typically don’t recommend them. Processed fruit snacks are high in refined sugar and their gummy texture is a no-no when it comes to caring for braces.
Instead, The Brace Place team suggests homemade energy balls; they’re sweet, and the protein and carbs give kids the boost they need for active, after-school pursuits. Typically made of nut butter, seeds, grains, and unrefined sweeteners, energy balls also contain healthy fat and fiber. Ensure your kids swish well with water after eating to unstick anything that’s coating their teeth and braces and to dislodge any seeds. Here’s a fun recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Energy Bites to get you started.
Sometimes kids don’t finish their lunches at school. A packed lunch can come home at the end of the day, well, still packed. When this happens, we suggest letting your kid snack on their lunch after school. You already know their lunch is braces-friendly, plus, eating leftover lunch helps avoid food waste!
We’d love to hear if our five snack ideas have helped your child or if you’ve come up with some great ideas you can share. Contact us today to book your child’s next appointment at our Tulsa or Claremore orthodontic office!