If you’re about to get braces, you may have lots of questions about what they’re like to wear. And top of that list is likely to be what you can eat.
If there are particular foods you love, will you be able to continue to enjoy them? Well, for many of us, pizza is pretty much a staple part of our diet! So can you eat pizza with braces?
That’s what we’re here to find out! Buckle up as we take you on a tour of everything you need to know about eating pizza when you’re wearing braces.
Why worry about what you can eat with braces?
To start with, let’s take a look at why it’s important to think about what food you eat when wearing braces.
The first thing to bear in mind is the construction of the braces themselves. They’re made with delicate wires, brackets and bands. Your brace will have been fitted carefully to the shape of your teeth. So you don’t want to eat anything that could damage that careful construction.
The next thing to think about is how you’ll clean your teeth. Having a brace in place means it won’t be quite as easy to get to the surface of your enamel. And it creates lots of small spaces where food can be trapped.
Not only can that be unsightly in itself, it can promote tooth decay. And who wants to have braces to get nice, straight teeth, only to find they decay!
It’s not just an issue of dental caries, either. Plaque and tartar can build up in the areas covered by the braces, actually staining your tooth enamel. So when the braces are removed, you may be left with staining in the pattern of the braces.
That’s not the kind of souvenir anyone wants! And while staining can usually be addressed with food whitening procedures, that takes time and money. It’s far better to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.
All this means that spending a bit of time thinking about the food you eat is a sensible course of action. So what about pizza – can you eat it or not?
Do pizzas cause a problem for braces?
You might expect that the main issue when it comes to braces is the cheese topping. After all, it’s easy to imagine that melted cheese sticking to the metal wires.
But in fact, cheese isn’t the problem you might expect. It’s not sticky in the way that sugary foods like caramel are sticky. And any bits of cheese that get caught on your braces can usually be got rid of very easily. Just spend some time flossing and it will be gone before you know it.
No, it’s not cheese you need to worry about. It’s the pizza crust.
That’s because the crust is chewy and can be tough – two characteristics that are very hard on braces. Because it’s often difficult to bite through, the crust can put pressure on the wires, bands and brackets.
And while you’re unlikely to lose a bracket from biting into a crust, chewing hard on a tough bit is a different matter. That can be a serious problem for your braces.
The same principles apply when you’re considering the toppings on your pizza. Those that are tough or chewy can cause problems for the wires, brackets and bands. An overcooked slice of pepperoni, for example, can play havoc with your braces.
Minimizing the risks of your pizza
If all this sounds too depressing for words, don’t despair! There are ways to minimize the risks around enjoying your favorite pizza whilst wearing braces.
Pan pizza, is a better option than thin crust. That’s because it’s got a spongier texture, making it easy to bite through more cleanly. And that will put less pressure on the construction of your braces.
You can also select toppings that will cause fewer problems for your braces. Chewier vegetables like celery will give you the same problems as a thicker crust, so steer clear of them. The same goes for pineapple, which can be rather stringy.
Instead choose smaller, softer toppings. Vegetables like broccoli, or small pieces of bell pepper, shouldn’t cause you too much difficulty.
And whatever you choose to eat, the key to successful pizza eating with braces is to go slow and use a knife and fork. Take small portions and chew them slowly and thoroughly.
A pan pizza can again be a good choice here, as can a Sicilian. These are more usually eaten with a knife and fork, so it won’t seem so strange.
What about pizza sauce?
We’ve seen some online articles advising people with braces to stay away from tomato sauce. Tomatoes, they argue, are acidic, and can cause staining and damage to your tooth enamel.
It’s true that acid in foods can eat away at the enamel on your teeth. And it’s also true that acid can damage the bonding agents used to keep your braces in place.
Lots of different kinds of food are acidic, including pretty much any vegetable once it’s been roasted. Tomatoes contain acid, as do citrus fruits, anything pickled in vinegar, salsa and barbecue sauce.
But tomatoes also contain healthy vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. And there are ways to minimize the impact of the acid on your teeth and braces.
One way is to eat acidic foods alongside alkaline ones to neutralize the acid. And fortunately, cheese is alkaline! So when you’re eating a cheesy pizza, you’re getting alkaline ingredients to offset the acidic tomato sauce.
Other foods that are good at neutralizing acids are lean meats and fish. And even better, there’s some evidence to suggest that these actually help strengthen your tooth enamel. Add some of these as pizza toppings, and that tomato sauce will have far less impact on your teeth.
Regular brushing and flossing
You might think that cleaning your teeth as soon as possible after eating your pizza is the way to go. But actually, it can be beneficial to pause before brushing after you’ve eaten acidic food.
That’s because the acid in the meal will have softened your dental enamel. If you brush straight away, you’ll be putting pressure on that enamel, which can speed up the damage.
Instead, the American Dental Association recommends waiting for an hour after eating before brushing. That will give your tooth enamel time to settle.
In the meantime, flush your mouth with water. Or you can chew some sugarless gum. That will encourage your mouth to produce more saliva, which will help neutralize the acid.
Other foods to think about
The great thing about pizza is that it can be eaten in a lot of different ways. You can choose between different crusts and different toppings. And you can eat it in small bites. All that means there are ways to continue to enjoy your pizza while you’re wearing braces.
But there are some foods that it’s a good idea to steer clear of altogether. Popcorn, caramels, licorice, taffy and sweets like gummy bears fall into this category.
That’s because they’re both high in sugar and very sticky. They’ll cling to your braces. And that will keep the sugar in contact with the surface of your teeth for long periods, promoting tooth decay.
Bubble gum is another food to stay away from for the same reason. But sugar-free gum is okay – and, as we’ve seen, it can help oral health if chewed after acidic food.
Very crunchy and chewy foods are to be avoided, as they can damage your braces. Hard candies and popcorn already fail the sugary and sticky test. But crunchy and chewy also means that raw vegetables like celery or carrots are problematic. The same goes for ice, biscuits and hard cookies.
Foods that you use your front teeth to bite into are also best avoided. The food will put pressure on the delicate wires as well as the brackets holding your brace in position. It’s best to steer clear of whole apples or pears, corn on the cob, ribs and chicken wings for this reason.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat these foods in a different way. Apples and pears are easy to slice up. That way, you’ll be able to bite into them with your premolars and molars, rather than your incisors. And if you’re patient, you can strip your corn from the cob, or meat from the bone, before eating it.
Take care and you can enjoy your pizza!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our answer to the question of can you eat pizza with braces!
With sensible selections for your crust and toppings, and by eating small pieces slowly, the answer is “yes”! Just remember to rinse your mouth with water after eating. Then wait for an hour before brushing your teeth.
Flossing once a day is important for oral hygiene for all of us. But it’s doubly important when you’re wearing braces. It will avoid any small particles of food staying trapped in the wires and causing tooth decay.
Follow these tips, and there’s no reason you can’t have an occasional slice of pizza. We hope you enjoy it!