If you’ve made a trip to the orthodontist, and you’re preparing for braces, you may have received spacers. With spacers in your mouth, what foods are OK to eat? Can you eat pizza? Ice cream? What about popcorn?
Most people know that the brackets and wires of traditional braces require care in your eating habits. But this preliminary orthodontic step also means changing what you eat. Read on to find out more about what spacers are, what foods you can eat, and how to be careful while still enjoying life to the fullest.
Can you Eat Pizza with Spacers?
You can still eat pizza with spacers. Just like with braces, soft and chewy foods are pretty much OK. So are foods without too much stickiness. Just don’t choose pizza with particularly hard, brittle, and flaky crust. And avoid toppings that are sticky and chewy. These options can dislodge or adhere to the spacers, creating problems at your next orthodontic appointment.
Most people recognize the traditional brackets and wires of traditional braces, they may be less familiar with the idea of spacers or separators. What are they? Why are they used? How do they work?
What are Orthodontic Spacers?
Spacers are small bands that the orthodontist will place between your back teeth to create space between them. Also called orthodontic separators, they may be made of rubber or metal. Placing spacers is a common preliminary step before adding braces. Most people get spacers a week or two before braces.
Why Orthodontic Spacers are Used
Spacers are an important part of the process of adding braces. Typically, braces are metal brackets cemented to your teeth and attached to wires that can be used to adjust their arrangement. Those wires are anchored by metal bands placed around your back teeth.
However, in most people’s mouths, their molars grow quite close together. In order to more easily place the metal rings that will anchor the braces, the orthodontist must first add spacers.
The separators are added a week or two before to give your teeth time to adjust and to allow any discomfort to ebb before adding braces.
How Orthodontic Spacers Work
Spacers are small bands made of rubber. Usually, the orthodontist will stretch the separator and then gently insert it between your teeth. As the flexible spacer returns from stretched to normal size it lodges in place and creates a small gap.
The process is simply, but you may feel a pinching as it approaches your gumline. Once placed, spacers can feel strange—as if you have food caught between your teeth.
Later, after adding braces, the orthodontist will remove your spacers. The process is similarly simple, quick, and relatively painless. Your orthodontist uses a small tool, much like a toothpick or dental floss, to pop out the spacers.
Eating with Spacers
Once the orthodontist has added spacers, and before you receive your braces, you may wonder about what’s safe to eat. In fact, most foods are safe: it’s quite hard to dislodge the spacers once they’ve been placed.
More likely, some foods can get stuck or simply give some discomfort. Remember that your mouth and your gums may already be slightly sore from the addition of spacers.
What Foods to Avoid
Your orthodontist will generally give you some suggestions meant to prevent foods from getting stuck and to avoid discomfort. As you follow these guidelines, think of them as practice for wearing braces, as the suggestions are very similar.
Recommended foods are soft and smooth. Foods to avoid are:
(It’s not a coincidence that these same foods aren’t good for your teeth, even without spacers or braces!).
Reflect on Your Favorites: Gum and Pizza
Unfortunately, some things that many of us prefer might seem questionable, given these guidelines. What about chewing gum? What about hot and iced caffeinated drinks? What about pizza?
If you’re an avid gum chewer, the news is not good: gum falls into the soft and sticky category and can get stuck on spacers and braces, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Consider an alternative that freshens your breath and keeps your mouth happy, like a soft, melting mint or lozenge.
Hot and iced drinks are OK if your teeth and gums don’t feel temperature sensitive. Take a few test sips of your favorite hot tea or iced coffee to find out.
And try not to chew the ice! If these drinks give you trouble at first, don’t despair. The temperature-sensitive effect may be temporary.
For pizza fans, the outlook is better. Pizza is often soft and chewy, with smooth toppings like tomato sauce and cheese. This kind of pizza won’t affect your spacers or braces, so feel free to enjoy a slice once the soreness dissipates.
However, thin crust aficionados should be aware that hard, brittle, and flaky crust can get stuck, just like before the spacers. This might make cleaning more complicated (and your next orthodontist’s appointment potentially embarrassing).
Frequently Asked Questions to Can You Eat Pizza with Spacers
I’ve Heard That Getting Spacers Can Hurt—Is That True?
Pain differs from person to person. A study of adolescents with spacers found that some experienced pain, but it quickly dissipated. You can expect some discomfort with spacers and braces. But it will likely dissipate after a few days.
Will Pizza Cheese Stick to Spacers?
Thick, melty mozzarella is part of pizza joy for many people. Luckily, cheese is more smooth than sticky, thanks to the fat molecules in dairy. For this reason, it should be safe to eat with spacers.
Are There Other Pizza Toppings I Should Avoid with Spacers?
Avoid toppings that are hard, brittle, and flaky, that are sticky, or that are tough and chewy. For example, skip the taco pizza with crushed nachos on top. Pesto pizza with hard bits of nuts may also give you trouble. Thick and chewy strips of steak or woody vegetables are probably out as well.