Eating with Braces (The Pros and Cons)

Well, like I said in a previous post, I was just getting back on solids after the Major Teeth Extraction, when on came the braces and there I was, back to square one with eating again!

 How long does it take to get used to eating with braces?

From what I’ve found out online (can you tell I’ve developed a major obsession done loads of Internet research on braces? Thank goodness for Arched Wire forums and Yahoo Questions) the time it takes for people to get used to eating proper foods again is anywhere from three days to two weeks. One week is the average. My brother-in-law says he was back on normal foods by three days when he had braces in high school. I seem to be heading towards the two week category, by the looks of things. Maybe even three, because I’m such a big baby.

When I first got my braces, my teeth were super tender and I could hardly bite into any food with my two front teeth. So if I wanted anything remotely solid, I would have to slice it up into tiny pieces and put the pieces on my back teeth to chew. Read – they were tender, but they didn’t hurt in a ‘pain’ kind of way. When I try to describe this to other people, the best I could come up with was, ‘It’s kind of like my teeth have lost all their strength to bite into things.’

And I guess in a way, it’s true. Right now, my teeth are being pushed back into their proper places – kind of like other bodily muscles receiving a major gym workout to get back into shape. So while they’re being pushed and pummelled around by the braces, they’re a little sore, just like muscles the day after a massive workout, and they’re just that bit weaker than they’re used to be. But gradually they’re getting strong again and as each day passes and I get more and more used to my braces, so do my teeth, and they’re able to bite into more things. I live for the day I can eat chips again – twice since I’ve got my braces on, I’ve been out to Mexican tapas and both times, I haven’t been able to eat a single chip with guacamole sauce – which is pure torture for me!

 The best things about eating and braces:

 Less mindless snacking: I used to indulge in lots of mindless eating, snacking on bad foods when I wasn’t hungry, eating just for the sake of eating. But having braces makes it a lot harder to have something hard like biscuits or chocolates. This might sound really bad – but it isn’t. Surprisingly, I hardly miss eating chocolates and biscuits. It’s made me realise how much we dupe ourselves about food, thinking we really need to fulfil our craving for sweets or chips because modern culture tells us that we should. But it’s actually more natural to crave something good for our bodies. Now I only eat when I have to, and that’s usually when I want something healthy, rather than something bad that I can just mindlessly snack on. So having braces is improving my eating habits.

 Better table manners: Braces have also improved my table manners. I am now forced to eat in a more ‘ladylike’ manner, daintily slicing up everything and putting small forkfuls in my mouth, chewing carefully and slowly, whereas post-braces, I would simply cram everything in as fast as I could.

 Better portion control: Those articles that tell you to eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful while giving your stomach time to tell you when it’s full? That’s me now, but not by choice. I am now officially the slowest eater in the group whenever I eat out. But that also means I eat less, feel full faster, and eat appropriate-sized portions – and I do it all willingly. Boom – thank you, braces!

 The worst things about eating with braces (and how to get around them):

 Food stuck in your braces: Salad is a major culprit here because of the high potential of having something bright green stuck in your braces. I still love my salads and I won’t go without them, so I always make sure I have a friend or trusty mirror to check my teeth after I’m done eating.

Not being able to eat apples: Even when I’ve chopped them up into manageable pieces, I still find it difficult. I think it’s because my mouth is a lot smaller now with braces. It’s sad, because I love apples. But I have fine plans for juicing up my apples with some celery, cucumber, ginger and carrot instead – or making apple tart and soft baked apples instead! That’s if I can figure out how to work the oven first.

 Not being to eat party foods: Party foods are finger foods, which means you usually stand around and bite into them just as someone asks you a question and everyone in the group is staring at you, waiting for your answer and you’re just trying to chew a mouthful of hot spring roll. The biting bit is what gets me – I find it really hard to bite into anything these days; now I’m usually the one who asks for a knife and fork for my pizza while everyone’s just eating with their hands. So, sadly, no party foods for me. Which means I’m reduced to just drinking, which means I get a lot drunker faster than anyone else now and end up passing out on the pool table. True story.

 Not being able to eat burgers: I’m sure the staff at McDonald’s would look at me weird if I asked for a fork and knife with my chicken burger. So I don’t go in there anymore. But I’m really lucky that Perth has a lot of great burger joints like Jus Burgers and Burger Bistro where the burgers are so huge, you’re more or less expected to eat them with a fork and knife. And they’re a lot healthier and yummier than your average fast food burger too – so win-win situation there too!

 Not being able to drink red wine or eat curries: This is mainly because my top braces are ceramics which might stain when I eat them. I’ve been told not to eat blackberries for the same reason, but so far the blackberries that come with my yoghurt have not stained my teeth. I repeat – so far. I’ve also been advised not to drink Coke, not because it will stain my teeth but because the sugar and plaque might build up around the brackets and cause stains. But I’m fine with that because I’m not that big a fan of Coke. And anytime I develop an obsession for Coke, I can always drink it with a straw.

I’m really sad about the red wine, but I think I’ve figured out a way to manage the curry. I will simply cut my curry meat up in little pieces and put them on my molars, thereby avoiding the clear ceramics on my front teeth. Genius me!!!

So what are some good foods to eat in the first few weeks of brace-wearing? I’ll have a list for you in the next entry of the Metal Mouth Diaries!

photo credit: Insomnia PHT via photopin cc
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