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The Importance of proper diet during orthodontic treatment

Great technological advances have been made over the years in the adhesives or “dental glue” used on orthodontic brackets. These advances have allowed for smaller brackets that are less visible and more comfortable for patients. Even with the best “glue” however, there are some diet guidelines that need to be followed during orthodontic treatment to prevent broken brackets.

Hard foods such as nuts and cashews, hard candy, corn on the cob, carrots, popcorn need to be avoided at all cost. They are just too hard and will easily break brackets. Sticky foods should also be avoided because they will loosen up orthodontic bands or appliances such as expanders or space maintainers. Examples of common sticky foods include caramel, marsh mallows, fruit loops, beef jerky, and anything with such consistency.

Gum can be a tricky subject. It does have a sticky nature and can lead to loose bands or appliances. Therefore as a general rule it should be avoided. However, sugarless gum can actually promote salivary flow which cleans the teeth and prevents cavities. It also has a soothing effect on teeth and tends to relieve discomfort following adjustments and tightening. My advice to patients is therefore to use it in moderation and not for long periods of time.

Sodas and soft drinks are other common causes of broken brackets and are not recommended during orthodontic treatment. The acid present in these drinks eats away the dental glue on the brackets and leads to loose appliances. In today’s culture however, it can be hard to avoid soft drinks, especially for teenagers. Therefore, to be fair, I advise my patients to rinse with water after drinking sodas in order to wash away the acid and not leave any residue on the teeth.

A final cause of many emergency visits to the orthodontist is all the bad habits that patients often have but never admit. They tend to be such habits as nail biting, chewing on straws or pencils, opening bottles or packages with the teeth, or pocking at the braces with sharp tools. These habits can break brackets and upset your beloved orthodontist.

With a little common sense one can enjoy a proper diet and have orthodontic treatment free of broken brackets.

Dr. Reza Salmassian is a Board Certified Orthodontist in Valencia. For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic consultation please call 661-222-7444 or visit


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