Yes, you can absolutely still enjoy tacos while wearing braces! With some minor adjustments and precautions, tacos can remain a tasty and satisfying meal option throughout your orthodontic treatment.
Can You Eat Hard or Soft Tacos with Braces?
Both hard and soft taco shells are possible to eat with braces through taking the proper care. Hard taco shells may require more caution as they can be crunchy and firm in texture. Some recommendations include:
- Take small bites of hard tacos and chew thoroughly with your back teeth
- Soften hard taco shells in milk briefly to make them less brittle
- Stick to soft tacos and crispy tacos as they have a lower chance of damaging brackets or wires
- Cut or break tacos into smaller pieces before eating for easier chewing
- Avoid large chunks of steak or chicken in tacos that may get stuck in braces
With some adjustments, both soft and hard shell tacos can still be enjoyed with orthodontic appliances. It’s generally recommended to be extra cautious when eating hard tacos and to opt for softer versions when possible.
Taco Fillings to Eat with Braces
You have lots of tasty and braces-friendly options when it comes to taco fillings:
- Ground beef or turkey: Use lean ground meat and be sure to chop or break it into small pieces that won’t get stuck.
- Shredded chicken: Cook until tender and shred into tiny pieces. Avoid large chunks.
- Beans: Black or pinto beans make a perfect protein-packed filler. Mash them first.
- Rice: Flavor cooked rice with spices and tomatoes for a vegetarian taco filling.
- Shrimp: Diced shrimp sautéed in spices keeps tacos exciting.
- Veggies: Onions, peppers, corn, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and more!
- Cheese: Shredded cheddar, crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese.
When choosing fillings, aim for soft, tender textures that won’t pull at orthodontic wires. Spicy fillings may cause irritation, so keep that in mind.
Making Tacos Braces-Friendly
Here are some other tips for enjoying tacos with braces:
- Use a soft tortilla or taco shell and warm it slightly to make it more pliable.
- Place taco fillings inside the tortilla first, then add other toppings like lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, etc.
- Chop all ingredients into tiny pieces so they are easier to chew.
- Skip hard taco shells or soften them in milk to reduce breakage risk.
- Take small bites and chew thoroughly with your back molars.
- Cut tacos vertically into smaller bites to minimize risk of fillings falling out.
- Avoid excessively chewy, sticky, crunchy or hard foods that could damage braces.
- Use an orthodontic wax if brackets or wires are irritating your cheeks or gums.
Making some simple braces-friendly adjustments helps you continue enjoying favorite tex-mex dishes like tacos during treatment.
Best Types of Tacos for Braces
If you’re looking for the most braces-friendly taco options, here are some of the top choices:
- Soft flour tortilla tacos – The softness makes these easier to bite and chew than crunchy shells.
- Fish or shrimp tacos – Fish and shrimp break into small flakes easily.
- Braised meat tacos – Slow cooked meats like carnitas or barbacoa shred nicely.
- Ground beef or turkey tacos – Finely minced meat is gentle on braces.
- Veggie tacos – Fill with beans, rice, grilled veggies, guacamole.
- Breakfast tacos – Eggs, cheese, potato and bacon are great soft options.
Stick to softer textures and smaller pieces in your taco fillings, and you’ll find you can satisfy your taco craving despite having braces!
Foods to Avoid Putting in Tacos with Braces
While tacos are generally braces-friendly, there are some specific fillings that are best avoided:
- Hard, crunchy shells or toppings – Can damage brackets or wires.
- Large pieces of steak, chicken, pork – Risk getting stuck in braces.
- Whole corn kernels – Can wedge between teeth and wires.
- Hard or crunchy veggies like raw carrots – Difficult to chew.
- Chewy cheeses like mozzarella – Tend to stick in braces.
- Sticky, gooey foods like melted cheese – Adhere to orthodontic appliances.
- Hard or crunchy chips like tortilla chips – Break more easily and are hard to chew.
Avoid excessively hard, crunchy, chewy or sticky foods in your tacos while wearing braces. Instead, chop all ingredients into smaller, softer pieces first.
Taco Recipe Ideas for Braces
Here are some deliciously braces-friendly taco recipes to try:
Shredded Chicken Tacos
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 8 small flour tortillas
- Toppings: shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded cheese
- Cook chicken breasts in a skillet with taco seasoning and broth until no longer pink inside and juices run clear.
- Shred chicken using two forks pulling it apart into thin strands.
- Warm tortillas in skillet or microwave until soft and pliable.
- Fill tortillas with shredded chicken and desired toppings.
Ground Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1/2 cup water
- Romaine lettuce leaves
- Toppings: pico de gallo, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole
- Cook ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat. Add taco seasoning and water. Cook until no longer pink.
- Scoop turkey mixture into romaine lettuce leaves.
- Top with desired taco toppings and fold lettuce over filling.
- 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato, diced small
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- Taco seasoning
- 8 corn tortillas
- Mash black beans lightly with a fork.
- Mix together beans, rice, sweet potato, corn and taco seasoning.
- Warm tortillas until soft.
- Fill tortillas with veggie mixture.
- Top with salsa, guacamole, lettuce, cheese etc.
- 12 eggs
- 1/2 cup diced ham
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup diced potato
- 8 flour tortillas
- Scramble eggs with ham, cheese and potatoes.
- Divide egg mixture among 8 tortillas.
- Add any extra fillings like salsa, avocado, etc.
Get creative with different taco fillings that you can chop small and fill your tortillas, lettuce wraps or shells with while wearing your braces! The options are endless.
Preventing Discomfort After Eating Tacos with Braces
While tacos are generally safe to eat with braces, they can sometimes cause minor discomfort. Here are some tips to prevent issues:
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after eating to remove any food debris.
- Brush and floss carefully after tacos, being gentle around orthodontic appliances.
- Use an oral irrigator or pulsing water flosser to clean between teeth and brackets.
- Avoid hard, crunchy taco shells that can break off and get stuck.
- Apply orthodontic wax to any brackets or wires poking your cheeks.
- Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen if you have any mouth pain after eating.
- Contact your orthodontist if you have any broken appliances, loose bands or noticeable shifting.
Practicing good oral hygiene and choosing softer foods can help you prevent irritation or injury from eating tacos with braces. Pay attention to any lingering discomfort and address it promptly.
Are Tacos Okay for My Orthodontic Treatment Plan?
Many orthodontists approve of softer, minced tacos in moderation as part of a balanced braces-friendly diet. However, each treatment plan is unique. Discuss your taco eating preferences with your orthodontist to see if they have any special recommendations or precautions based on your specific braces and dental issues.
Key things to find out:
- How much chewiness or crunchiness is safe for your situation?
- Do you need to avoid any ingredients that could damage appliances?
- Are there any precautions needed with temporary anchors, rubber bands, headgear etc?
- How soon after adjustments should you wait to eat tacos?
With your orthodontist’s input, you can enjoy tacos safely throughout treatment. They may suggest sticking to softer foods after tightening wires or switching to lower-risk fillings and toppings. Communicate any discomfort you have eating tacos so adjustments can be made.
Nutritional Considerations for Tacos with Braces
It’s important to consider the nutritional value of any foods you eat frequently with braces, including tacos:
- Protein – Meat, beans, cheese and Greek yogurt contain protein to help you feel full longer.
- Fiber – Fillings like veggies, beans and brown rice add fiber for digestion.
- Calcium – Cheese and Greek yogurt give you an orthodontic-friendly calcium boost.
- Vitamins – Onions, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce provide vitamins.
- Iron – Meat, beans and fortified corn tortillas offer iron.
Aim for lean meats, healthy fats, fiber-rich vegetables and nutrient-packed tortillas or shells. Limit overly greasy, sugary or salty ingredients that aren’t the best option.
You can make tacos as nutritious as you want by packing them with healthy fillings and toppings. This helps provide your body with key vitamins and minerals needed for braces treatment and overall wellness.
After Braces: Enjoying Tacos Post-Treatment
One of the best perks after your braces come off is getting to enjoy all your favorite foods again without restriction – especially tacos!
Here are some of the taco treats you have to look forward to after completing orthodontic treatment:
- Crunchy hard taco shells – No more risks of breakage or wires getting stuck!
- Cheesy quesadillas – Ooey, gooey melted cheese and no debris to get caught.
- Spicy salsa – Bring on the heat without brackets irritation.
- Taco chips and dip – Crunch away on chips and guacamole.
- Steak or chicken fajitas – Large, juicy pieces are back on the menu.
- Loaded nachos – Pile high the chips, cheese, beans, salsa and more without worry.
One of life’s greatest pleasures is enjoying all your favorite foods without restriction or fear of damage. Completing orthodontic treatment lets you indulge freely in tacos and tex-mex dishes to your heart’s content.
Tacos can remain a tasty part of your diet while undergoing orthodontic treatment by:
- Sticking to soft fillings that are minced or chopped small
- Avoiding hard, crunchy shells or garnishes
- Taking slow, cautious bites and chewing thoroughly
- Practicing excellent oral hygiene before and after eating
- Communicating any discomfort to your orthodontist
With some simple precautions and preparation, you can still enjoy the flavors of tacos without harming your braces. Soon enough, you’ll be indulging in all your favorite foods with your new beautiful smile after completing treatment!