by: Charles Schulz
Good Evening Everyone,
Oh, how I’ve missed writing so very much! There have been many new occurrences and happenings lately in my life that have swept me away, but they are all good changes. A good shake-up is something I always welcome because as much as we all like to resist and avoid change, I understand it is necessary and wonderful for all of us.
I thought it best to keep up with the ever-changing mood of my life lately in today’s post, which is all about braces and food. Oddly enough, the mouth–from my observations–is mainly focused on, in the media, as a point of sexual attraction and stimulation, but rarely is the mouth, or the teeth within a mouth, focused on as a utilitarian device for, well, consumption. There are of course numerous ads for teeth cleaning devices and aesthetic improvement tools for ones lips and teeth, but rarely are these ads aimed at why having clean, less crowded teeth is important. When they are aimed at this topic, the scientific tip is second to the exquisite design of the ad and the beautiful person displaying said product. My point? Today I would like to talk about what it means to have those chompers all bracketed up with metals or ceramics and how this act impacts our eating habits which in turn impacts our oral health. Yes, it’s all connected!
Digestion begins in the mouth as a mechanical process wherein we chew our food, break it down into small particles and then our saliva, which contains the enzyme ptyalin, begins the digestion of starch from food into maltose (a sugar/disaccharide). Knowing this process is important because having a device like braces in your mouth could potentially hinder you from chewing properly or at all. The mouth is where all physical consumption begins and that’s why braces can become a true nuisance if you’re not careful.
Here are a few thoughts and recommendations to those of you out there braced up.
- First and foremost, CHEW it all up. There’s a company called HapiLabs that has created a utensil that helps calculate the amount of time you need to properly chew your food by how quickly you do or don’t return said utensil to your mouth. It’s a fantastic idea and I can’t wait to get my hands on one! Yes, these sorts of things excite me. Thanks to a friend who mentioned this ingenious gadget to me.
- What I’m about to mention may sound very strange to those of you who are brace free, but to those burdened, try to become accustomed to the grooves and feel of your teeth and where your pesky troublesome spots are. What do I mean? Where are the spots in your mouth where food gets easily jammed, stuck, squished, notched, etc. Knowing the vexing spots will enable you to become even more of an active participant in eating.
- Don’t be embarrassed. Yes, sometimes when you’re eating, some food particles will inevitably get lodged somewhere that’s inconvenient. This will happen, so accept this fact now and move on. What you can do is pay attention and have water handy. A modest swish won’t hurt anybody and it’s not breaking any major etiquette rules.
- Have hygiene tools readily available. Depending on your situation, this may or may not be convenient, but my suggestion is to always have tooth powder/paste, a brush, floss and flossers, and those small rubber stick-like flossing devices handy–these are the most convenient for a small bag, wallet or clutch. At home, I’d also recommend a water-flosser and of course a nice chemical free mouth wash. I recommend something with tea-tree oil, peppermint oil, or sage oil.
- Anything too sticky or chewy, I would avoid.
- Don’t over-do it with citrus foods like lemons and limes because they can impact the exposed enamel and leave markings while the tooth surface area that’s covered becomes discolored.
- On the note of discoloration, I would avoid excessive consumption of dark drinks like black teas, coffee, Dandy Blend, dark ales and even red wine. I’m not saying avoid these all together, but over-consumption without proper home hygiene and regular dental cleanings will lead to more intrinsic staining you won’t find too appealing later when the braces come off. Additionally, don’t fret too much about some staining you may see while in the braces, this is natural as your teeth are undergoing a slow trauma, depending on the type of staining you can get rid of it later.
- Hard and overly crunchy foods are unfortunately a big no-no in the braces world. So if you’re a big fan of biting into carrots and celery, you’ll have to get accustomed to pre-slicing your food.
- I would also stray away from sharp crusts and biting INTO foods. This was a very difficult point for me to comprehend in the beginning. That’s what our teeth are there for, biting, right? Wrong, not when you have braces. Bite sizes, that’s going to be your new best friend.
- Gum. I wouldn’t touch gum unless you’re very strategic.
- For other obvious body health reasons as well and to assist yourself in NOT getting gum recession, plaque build up and cavities, avoid intense amounts of sugary goods. If you partake in a sweet-tooth-sweet, have the foresight to keep those handy hygiene tools around to give the ol’ chompers a cleanse.
- I considered making a list of foods that would be helpful to consume, but to be honest, my diet hasn’t changed that dramatically since I got braces in January. Most of the nuances mentioned already covered any changes or adjustments I have had to undergo and obstacles I’ve had to overcome. Eating is something I enjoy greatly and I think it’s incredibly important to understand and enjoy the process. Today, I can’t think of a better way of getting closer to my food than to understand how my body and those foreign and helpful devices have to handle it.
I hope this post was helpful and gave some of you a better perspective on the many aspects of the eating world.
Sending all of my braced and non-braced friends out there love and un-gunked teeth thoughts! And remember… bite responsibly (especially with those bracket buddies). :p