Orthodontics Approved Back to School Foods
Orthodontics Approved Back to School Foods

Orthodontics Approved Back to School Foods

Returning to school with braces or aligners means being extra mindful of your dietary choices. Some foods have the potential to damage orthodontic appliances, while others can lead to increased plaque buildup. To help you navigate this, we've put together some straightforward guidelines on braces-friendly lunches and snacks to pack. We're also sharing healthy food ideas that won't put your brackets at risk!

Braces-Friendly Main Dish Ideas


Sandwiches are a lunchtime classic, and they can still be a great option with braces. Opt for softer bread choices like white, wheat, sourdough, rolls, or tortillas. To make them more manageable, ask your parents to cut them into halves or quarters. Steer clear of oversized subs, and be mindful of spreading fillings thinly. Skip hard, crunchy veggies that require extensive chewing.

When it comes to fillings, consider safe options like turkey, chicken, roast beef, tuna salad, peanut butter, and cheese. Cream cheese and mayo can help hold the fillings together. Dressings like mustard, oil, and vinegar are preferable over creamy dressings, as they won't stick to your braces.

Pasta and Rice Dishes

Pasta salads can be a fantastic braces-friendly main dish. Opt for pasta salads with chopped soft veggies and diced ham, chicken, or tuna. Avoid including large chunks that require significant biting. Rice bowls with soft proteins like eggs or beans and mild sauces can also be a good choice. Hummus, bean and lentil soups, or chili can be packed in a thermos for a warm, hearty meal.

Quesadillas and Wraps

Quesadillas or wraps are another excellent option. Fill a tortilla or flatbread with cheese, beans, sautéed veggies, or shredded meat, and then toast it in a pan or a lunchbox grill for a delicious Mexican-style meal. These materials won't cling to your braces like regular bread. Make sure to chop the fillings finely so that no hard biting is required. Soft-filled burritos are also a convenient and tasty option for on-the-go.

Fruit and Veggie Sides That Are Orthodontist Approved

Fruit Cups

Fresh, pre-cut fruits like grapes, melons, berries, and citrus sections are perfect choices. They require minimal chewing and can naturally help clean your teeth. Alternatively, you can pack applesauce, fruit puree pouches, or chopped fruit salads for added convenience. However, it's best to avoid whole apples, pears, or dried fruits, reserving those for eating at home under supervision.

Cooked Vegetables

Cook vegetables thoroughly until they are very soft, making them easy to eat. Options like mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, soft-boiled beets, or mushy peas are braces-friendly choices. For vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or squash, dice them into very small pieces. Roasting these veggies can also help caramelize them, making them soft enough to be mashed against the roof of your mouth without hitting your braces wires.

Vegetable Soups

Warm up a thermos with vegetable soup loaded with soft-cooked carrots, peas, potatoes, beans, or lentils puréed into the broth. The warmth can be comforting for kids when they're away from home. Bottled tomato or butternut squash soups also travel well. Just be sure to avoid soups with uncooked crunchy veggies.

On-The-Go Snacks for People with Braces

Yogurt and Applesauce Pouches

Portable yogurt, pureed fruit, and applesauce pouches are excellent options. Look for ones without large chunks, seeds, or pits, as their soft textures make them easy to swallow. These pouches typically have covered spout openings to prevent spills in backpacks. Not only do they fill kids up, but yogurt also contains probiotics that are beneficial for gum health.

Protein and Granola Bars

When selecting nutrition bars, check the labels and opt for soft, slippery options without nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, or hard bits that could potentially damage wires or brackets. Chewy granola bars are less likely to get stuck than crispier varieties like Nature Valley bars. Bars with peanut butter or diced fruit fillings tend to be safer choices for those with braces.

String Cheese

Individually wrapped string cheese is an ideal orthodontics-approved snack. It satisfies hunger while providing an extra dose of calcium for developing teeth. The texture is easy to chew slowly in small bites. Remind kids to peel the cheese rather than biting chunks off the stick. Additionally, these snacks have lower sugar content compared to sugary foods, reducing the risk of plaque buildup.


Prepare fruit smoothies or protein shakes at home and pack them in insulated bottles to keep them chilled for 5-6 hours. The drinkable texture eliminates the need for biting. Load them up with soft fruits, spinach, yogurt, and milk for a nutrient-packed beverage. Smoothies are an excellent way to incorporate leafy greens into your diet, and keeping sipping straws handy can make consuming them even easier.

Special Treats That Won’t Compromise Orthodontic Appliances


Plain water or fruit juice popsicles can offer a sweet, refreshing treat for field days, class parties, or hot commutes. They're braces-safe as long as they are melted to a more liquid consistency before biting on the stick. If there are any remaining chunks, encourage kids to "chew" them against the roof of their mouth with their tongue to avoid any issues with their brackets.

Muffins and Soft Cookies

For muffins, opt for packaged mini muffins over large bakery muffins that require extensive chewing. Alternatively, you can send individual cups of muffin batter to school for baking during home economics classes. When it comes to cookies, choose soft and chewy varieties over crunchy ones. Banana breads and zucchini breads, which tend to be naturally dense and moist, are great choices for birthdays or bake sales.

Pudding and Jello

When it's time for class celebrations or dessert, go for plain chocolate or vanilla pudding cups and pre-made gelatin and fruit bowls. Their smooth textures won't get stuck on your braces, ensuring a hassle-free treat.

Back-to-School Frequently Asked Questions About Braces

Q1: Can my child eat a salad for school lunch with braces?

Leafy salads can be tricky due to raw, crunchy veggies and the potential for dressing to stick in your braces. It's advisable to hold off on salads until after your braces are removed. Instead, opt for cooked vegetables that are soft and diced into manageable portions. Also, be cautious with acidic dressings, as they can contribute to cavities around brackets. Focus on other softer produce and protein options.

Q2: What kind of pasta makes a good orthodontics-approved lunch?

When preparing pasta lunches, avoid thick noodles like penne or rigatoni, which require more chewing. Opt for smaller pasta varieties such as elbows, mini shells, orzo, rotini, or angel hair. Cook the pasta until it's very soft, almost overcooked. Additionally, cut up any meatballs and veggies into tiny pieces that can be comfortably swallowed. It's a good idea to pack sauces separately to prevent them from sticking.

Q3: Can my child eat sandwiches cut into quarters if they have braces?

Whether sandwiches can be eaten in quarters depends on the type of bread and fillings. Soft whole wheat, white, or sourdough bread can likely be managed in quarters, especially by kids accustomed to their braces. However, it's best to avoid very dense or crusty breads, as well as fillings that require extensive chewing, like raw veggies, meats, or chunky spreads, in large portions.

Q4: What fruits make good on-the-go snacks with braces?

Portable fruits that naturally come in bite-sized pieces and require minimal chewing are your best options. Consider grapes, berries, melon chunks, mandarin orange slices, and halved cherry tomatoes. Apples and pears should be pre-chopped at home into small cubes to prevent any issues caused by biting off pieces. Bananas can be mashed easily with the tongue against the roof of the mouth. It's best to avoid large pieces of raw fruits that require vigorous biting or tearing action, as these can lead to problems.

Orthodontics of Long Beach Has Answers

Ready to make the most of your school year with braces? Follow these orthodontics-approved food tips, and ensure your orthodontic treatment stays on track. Remember, your smile journey is a partnership between you, your orthodontist, and your dietary choices. Embrace these guidelines, keep your braces in excellent shape, and before you know it, you'll be flashing a confident, beautiful smile. Don't hesitate—take the first step toward braces success today! Contact Orthodontics of Long Beach to schedule your next consultation.


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