Four million people in the United States have braces, and if you’re reading this, you’re likely either one of them, or about to become one.

When you have braces on your teeth, there are some foods you simply can’t consume. This is because they could force one of your braces to break off, or otherwise damage them. What could result is either a costly and time-consuming repair or not getting the full benefits.

As food can get stuck in braces, it can also lead to oral hygiene issues.

Read on for foods to avoid with braces, as well as foods you can still enjoy.

Foods to Avoid With Braces: Excessive Sugar

Uh oh. This puts a huge damper on the party.

While everyone should avoid excessive sugar due to the long-term damages to your health it could cause, there’s another big reason those with braces are told to be careful. This is because when you have braces, your teeth are actually more vulnerable to tooth decay. The sugar can get stuck in your braces, causing even more issues than you bargained for.

While you can definitely enjoy cakes and some types of candy every once in a while, don’t make a habit of it. Instead, learn to eat foods that don’t contain a huge amount of added sugar.

Most Candy

Most candy is another no-no. While you can enjoy sweets that don’t stick to your teeth or are too hard, much of candy falls into that bracket of a little bit too dangerous too enjoy.

Harder candies run the risk of causing brackets and braces to fall off when you bite into them. Gummy candy can not only stick to your braces but can also bend components like brackets and wires.

If you absolutely can’t live without sweets, try cakes and softer cookies. But, if there’s any question that it could do some damage, stay away from it.

Seeds or Nuts

Seeds and nuts are fantastic for a balanced diet. They also provide us with essential fats, proteins, and other nutrients to keep our bodies healthy. But, they’re a bit difficult for those who wear braces.

Because most of them are hard, you run the risk of popping a bracket off or bending your wires when eating them. As a result, most dentists will recommend that you stay away from them.

You can, however, get your fill of nuts in nut butter. With vegetarianism and veganism becoming much more popular, you’ll find an uptick in not only peanut butter but also almond and hazelnut butter. Use this as a spread on toast or other vegetables to get your vital protein and fat.

Popcorn

Very famously, when you get braces, popcorn becomes a forbidden food. This means going to the movies limits you quite a bit since you can only eat certain a small amount of candy and no popcorn.

Orthodontists warn against popcorn because it can become stuck in your wires and brackets. Again, this can be incredibly difficult to fish out and can cause discomfort or bad oral hygiene.

While kissing popcorn goodbye is a pain, when you go to the movies, there are other things you can enjoy. Still on the menu are hotdogs, drinks, softer cookies, soft pretzels without salt and ice cream. As long as you keep the sweets to a treat every once in a while, you can still enjoy movie snacks.

Chips, Nachos, and Hard Tacos

Chips, nachos, and tacos are another “food group” that is off the menu. As you can expect, this is because they’re very hard, and can cause breakage or become stuck in your braces. This is definitely a bummer for those who love Mexican food.

But this doesn’t mean Taco Tuesday has to be over for good. Instead, you can fix soft tacos and burritos to get your fill of Mexican food. Just be sure not to fill it with anything that’s braces-forbidden.

Gum

Yup, that’s right. You can’t use chewing gum as a way to freshen your breath anymore. Instead, you’ll have to brush your teeth, as hard mints are also a risk.

Gum can, of course, become lodged in between your braces and wires. It can also stick to your braces causes serious damage.

For fresh breath, brush your teeth when you first wake up and after every meal. Some braces wearers will keep a toothbrush with them for use at work or school to ensure they keep up with their oral hygiene.

Raw Fruit and Veggies

While fruits and vegetables are definitely nutritious and delicious, you’ll need to be sure that you eat them the correct way. Raw carrots, apples, pears, peaches, and other hard vegetables and fruits can cause breakage, so you should either cook your vegetables or eat them in a way that you can break them off with your back teeth.

Adapting to a New Diet

While it may seem like the list of foods to avoid with braces is endless, you’re still left with a plethora of options. Don’t get down and out about the foods you can’t eat. Instead, use this as an opportunity to try new dishes and flavors that you can consume.

And, if you’re someone who eats a lot of sugar, you can take the time to cut down on it to make sure you live your healthiest lifestyle possible.

Not sure if you need braces? Click here for five tell-tale signs that you’re a good candidate.