Holly berriesThe holidays are here, and for most, thoughts are all about gifts, food, and enjoying time with friends and family. But if you have braces, you’re also thinking—and probably worried—about how to enjoy fun holiday treats without damaging your braces. Here’s the good news, brace-wearers: with a little bit of thought and planning, you’re sure to enjoy festive and delicious dishes that will most certainly keep you in the holiday spirit.

Foods to Avoid

Sweets are in abundance this kind of year, and the sugary, chewy, and sticky options are certainly more than tempting. For those with braces, it’s best to avoid sticky foods like caramel, gum, taffy, jelly beans, and toffee. Hard and crunchy foods like candy canes, popcorn, nuts, pretzels, and peanut brittle are also discouraged.

To keep some healthy foods on your plate, use simple ways to make them easier on your teeth and braces. For example, shred a raw carrot to add to a salad or slice an apple into thin pieces. If possible, stick with cooked fruits and vegetables, which are softer and much gentler.

Foods to Focus On

While it may seem like the list of “bad” foods is too entirely long, there are actually plenty of tempting treats on which to feast. Brace-wearers can enjoy main dishes like turkey, ham, pot roast, stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and cranberry sauce. Fulfill your sweet tooth with items like pumpkin pie, cheesecake, jello, milkshakes, hot chocolate, and eggnog.

Regardless of the holiday foods being consumed, always remember to enjoy them in small portions (if sweet and sugary) and brush your teeth twice a day.

Prep for Emergencies

Even when being careful, sometimes orthodontic emergencies still occur. If this happens and you’re away for the holidays, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible. But in the meantime, here are a few simple fixes to help you get through a holiday dilemma:

  • To fix a poking wire, use a pencil eraser or the end of a match stick to push it down. Or, put wax on it to relieve the discomfort.
  • If a bracket or band is loose, leave it in place and put wax on it.
  • If a wire is loose, use tweezers to try to put it back in place. If that doesn’t work—and wax doesn’t help—try using a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire. Be sure to clip the wire only behind the last tooth to which it’s securely fastened. To help ease discomfort, put wax on it.
  • Keep a brace hygiene kit with you at all times. The kit should include: toothpicks, floss picks, travel toothbrush and paste, mouth rinse, orthodontic wax, and mirror.