Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Braces are wires that an orthodontist places over your teeth to improve their appearance and functionality. They're used to straighten crooked teeth and give people the beautiful smile they're looking for.
The most common type of braces, often simply called "metal braces," are made from an interlocking wire with brackets that an orthodontist attaches to your teeth.
If you have metal braces, the brackets and wires can irritate the soft tissues in your mouth if you eat the wrong foods. Therefore, it's important to know what foods you should avoid when wearing them.
If you're a sunflower seed fanatic, you might wonder if it's possible to enjoy your favorite snack while wearing braces. Let's take a closer look at whether it's safe to munch on these seeds while you're teeth are being straightened.
Sunflower Seeds Can Stick to Your Braces
Although orthodontists may have differing opinions about eating sunflower seeds with braces, there's reason to be cautious. The tiny seeds can lodge in the nooks and crannies of the wires and brackets.
In some cases, this could damage the wires—and even if they don't, bits of the seeds can hide under the bands and make them difficult to clean.
Sunflower seeds are also sticky. When a seed sticks to one side of a tooth, it can stick to another tooth as well. And even if you manage to remove every seed from between your teeth (which might be impossible), they leave some dust behind.
The Shells Are Also a Problem
The shells of sunflower seeds are also a threat to metal braces. If you chew on the husks, they can stick in your teeth and braces and damage them over time. When you try to dislodge the husks from your teeth, you could accidentally dislodge some of the wires or brackets that hold them in place.
This could make it harder for your orthodontist to do their job of straightening your teeth. To avoid these problems, it's safest not to eat sunflower seeds while wearing braces.
What if You Can't Resist Sunflower Seeds?
If you choose to eat these seeds anyway, rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash and brush your teeth afterward. Brushing after eating is important when wearing braces because the food particles can lodge in the wires and cause damage.
Also, use a soft toothbrush designed for braces. The shape of the bristles will help reach all areas of your mouth without damaging metal braces or irritating your gums. Also, consider using a flosser. This tool will help remove bits of food that are wedged between teeth and difficult to reach by hand alone.
Other Foods to Avoid With Braces
- Soft, fibrous foods that can stick between your teeth and cause irritation. Foods like strawberries, celery, and carrots are risky because they can slip through the brackets and into the grooves on the top of your teeth where the wires connect. This can cause pain from the wire digging into the tooth or even break the brackets.
- Sticky foods like caramel, taffy, gummy worms
- Chewy foods like chewy cookies and chewing gum
- Carbonated drinks like soda and beer
- Hard nuts like pistachios and cashews
- Hard foods like hard candies, chips, and popcorn
- Very hot foods (this can the metal to expand and loosen)
- Very cold foods like ice cream
You might think of many of the above as being fun treats, but they can cause problems if they stick to the metal or damage one of the wires or brackets.
Skip the Sunflower Seeds With Braces
Can you have sunflower seeds if you have braces? It's not a good idea. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of whether you should avoid sunflower seeds for the sake of your teeth and smile.
Follow the guidelines of your orthodontist, but they'll likely recommend that you avoid munching on sunflower seeds. If you do eat them, brush carefully to remove traces of sunflower seeds that could damage your braces.
- "Foods You Can and Shouldn’t Eat If You Have Braces." 19 Sept. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/what-can-you-eat-with-braces.
- "Foods to Avoid with Braces - Dental Associates." https://www.dentalassociates.com/dental-topics/foods-avoid-braces.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.