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When you crave a salty snack, nothing quite hits the spot like the satisfying crunch that comes from chips. That carb-laden combination of fat, spices, and oils is hard to beat when it comes to satisfying your craving.

When you have braces, reaching for a bag of chips becomes a little more complicated. In fact, some kinds of chips are temporarily off the menu until you get your braces off.

Let’s dive in to what types of chips you can eat to get your salty fix and which kinds to avoid when you are wearing braces.

Some types of chips have the green light from orthodontists for snacking when you’re wearing braces. These chips tend to be baked (as opposed to fried), so they have a softer consistency (and less of a crunch).

As a general rule, chips that have a softer consistency and break into bigger pieces are safer to eat when you have braces.

Chips (and salty snacks) you can eat when you have braces include:

  • Pringles
  • baked chips
  • cheese puffs
  • veggie sticks
  • kale chips
  • carrot chips
  • sweet potato fries

No matter what type of snack you eat, eat them one at a time (rather than a handful all at once). Not only is it more polite, it might save you from a mishap with your braces, like a bent wire or broken bracket.

When you have braces, hard bread, pizza crust, and crunchy chips can get stuck between the wires and bend them. If you crunch down hard, pressure on your braces’ wires may cause your brackets to break off your teeth.

To prevent this from happening, there are certain types of chips to avoid during your braces treatment. These include:

  • most types of fried potato chips
  • Cheetos or similar fried snacks
  • tortilla chips
  • Cheez-its or similar hard, baked crackers
  • kettle-cooked chips

There are plenty of other snack options when you have braces. Some good snack options include:

  • sliced fruit, such as apples, bananas, watermelon, or pears
  • cheese slices
  • pudding and applesauce (as long as they’re not high in sugar)
  • soft baked bakery items, like cookies, cakes, and muffins
  • frozen yogurt
  • smoothies

While you have braces, you will have to make some significant adjustments to your diet during your treatment. The American Association of Orthodontist recommends that you carefully adhere to your doctor’s food guidelines for the duration of your treatment.

Foods to avoid to protect your braces include:

  • popcorn
  • nuts and trail mix
  • hard candies
  • carrot sticks
  • celery sticks
  • gummy candies
  • hard pretzels
  • mints
  • bagels

The risks of eating crunchy, sticky, and otherwise not recommended foods when you have braces are two-fold.

First, there is the primary risk of getting a piece of crunchy, hard, or sticky food stuck between the wires of your braces.

With enough pressure (or an overly enthusiastic bite), the brackets can actually break off your teeth. This would require an emergency repair by your orthodontist.

Second, there is the risk of a starchy, sugary, or hard food getting lodged between your braces and your teeth.

Even the most careful cleaning and flossing routine can leave a bit of food trapped in these hard to access places in your mouth.

Over time, trapped foods decay into plaque, which can seep into your tooth enamel and create cavities.

When you have braces, respect the process. Avoid foods that your orthodontist discourages you from eating, including most types of chips.

If chips get stuck in your braces, they can break off your brackets. This can slow down your braces treatment and add extra visits to the orthodontist.

There’s a long list of healthy snacks available to curb your snacking urge. Taking care of your braces means you’ll have the best possible treatment outcome.