IBraces are an excellent way to straighten and align your child’s teeth or help them overcome other dental issues such as overbites, underbites, and gaps between teeth. While braces can make a drastic improvement to your child’s smile — and their confidence — it may take some time for them to adjust to wearing them.
First, there is the issue of pain and pressure during the initial appointment where braces are put into place. For the first couple of days, your child may experience some irritation and pain surrounding their teeth and gums. Discomfort can occur after periodic adjustments or tightening of the braces, although not usually as severe.
Besides wanting to keep pain to a minimum, most dentists encourage their braces-wearing patients to avoid certain foods that can damage braces and slow down the realignment progress. In addition, damage to braces means another appointment to readjust and repair, which can be difficult with today’s busy schedules.
The foods your child must avoid completely include:
- Pizza crusts
- Crunchy foods like pretzels, chips, crackers
- Crunchy fruit or vegetables
- Hard bread rolls
- Chewy or hard candies
Kids should also avoid sugary drinks (such as sodas) that can increase bacteria in the mouth, as well as any other hard-to-bite foods. With that said, there really are a host of great options for delicious and creative school lunches for your child that wears braces.
Creative School Lunch Ideas for Kids with Braces
Regardless of what kind of lunch you pack for your kids with braces, remember to ensure foods are at the proper, safe temperature. Use insulated lunch bags to hold lunches and insulated containers for the food inside, with at least two sources of cold for those foods that require refrigeration.
Egg, Chicken, or Tuna Salad — These soft salads on soft sandwich bread are a great option for braces wearers. Just make sure that if you are using anything crunchy in the salad, such as pickles, celery, or onions, that you dice them very small to avoid damage to braces.
PB and J — A classic for kids all across the nation, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a great choice for braces wearers — as long as you substitute creamy peanut butter for the crunchy style.
Avocado Sandwich — For vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, the high good fat content of avocados helps kids feel full longer and add a dash of Omega-3s to their diet. Pair mashed avocado with lemon juice, pepper, and salt and top with tomato and cheese for extra substance.
Lunch Meat and Cheese —Cheeses of all kinds paired with softer lunch meats such as chicken or turkey and slathered with the condiments of choice make an excellent sandwich for braces-wearing kids.
Soups are generally an excellent choice for children with braces, especially if they have just had their braces put on or have gotten an adjustment to the fit of their existing braces. Just make sure that their soup has components that are tender or that your child can easily swallow whole, such as noodles, small bits of potato, or creamy soups like Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Broccoli, or Cream of Celery.
3. Cold Salads
While typically lettuce and vegetable salads may pose problems for braces wearers, cold pasta salads are a wonderful, filling way to change up your lunch game. Just make sure there are no hard ingredients and keep any added components diced very small
4. Main Dish Pasta
Pasta is perfect for kids who wear braces. Pack their favorites — spaghetti, tortellini, ravioli, and even macaroni and cheese — in insulated containers to keep them hot until lunchtime. Smooth sauces like marinara, Alfredo, or cheese sauces are best.
5. Other Choices
Of course, there are a host of out-of-the-box lunch choices for kids who wear braces. Think about adding a side of hummus with some flatbread for a change of pace. Or perhaps make some spicy beans and rice to pack in a hot container for cool fall mornings. If bread is an issue, try meat and cheese rollups. Other possibilities include hard-boiled eggs, cheese cubes or cheese spread, cottage cheese, and others.
Don’t forget to pack your child a dessert to round out the meal! Choose smooth and creamy yogurt and puddings, applesauce or other flavored fruit purees, canned fruits, soft fruits like bananas, kiwi, and melons. For a special treat, you can even include things like peanut butter cups, marshmallows, and smooth chocolate without added crunchies. Some widely loved candy bars such as KitKats and 3 Musketeers bars also make perfect treats for braces-wearing kids.
Mealtimes While Wearing Braces Don’t Have to Be Boring!
At Orthodontics of Carson, we understand that our young patients are itching to be just like their peers. This list of approved-for-braces-wearers lunch ideas should give you a great start on packing lunches that will make them the envy of the cafeteria — without causing them discomfort or impacting the integrity of their braces.
The American Dental Association offers even more food and meal ideas for kids who wear braces to help you keep lunchtime exciting, nutritious, and fun, such as custards, couscous, milkshakes, and more.
Need even more ideas? Stop by our Carson area office or check in with our helpful staff the next time you are in for a checkup or an adjustment to your child’s braces, and we can help you.