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Five School Lunch Ideas for Kids with Braces

Knowing what food items your child should eat with braces can be challenging. While avoiding sticky and hard foods is a given, other items can easily become stuck under wires or damage brackets. School-aged children may become embarrassed, self-conscious, or struggle to keep their braces clean. Orthodontics of Santa Barbara has five school lunch ideas for your child, complete with sides and desserts! All you need to do is pick an item from each category to craft a varied and satisfying lunch that will keep your child’s smile looking great.

What Lunch Entrées are Best for Children with Braces?

Certain lunch items are more manageable for children with braces to eat. Orthodontics of Santa Barbara recommends these five ideas to help you either create a healthy, delicious lunch or to help your child know which cafeteria items to pick while keeping their braces as intact as possible: 

1. Crust-Free Sandwiches

Crust-free sandwiches are easier to consume when sliced into smaller portions and can come in the form of peanut butter and jelly, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, or a deli sandwich. If you are creating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it is best to avoid chunky peanut butter. In addition, any onion, celery, and other crunchy items in tuna, chicken, or egg salad sandwiches should be well-diced. Finally, deli meats like turkey and chicken are easier to chew than meats like roast beef. 

2. Bite-Sized Pasta

Bite-sized pasta like macaroni and cheese or spaghetti can make for a delicious lunch dish. Spaghetti can be cut into smaller pieces before or after it is cooked and can contain no meat or meat that is finely ground. Kids typically love pasta, so this is a popular and easy choice.

3. Crouton-Free Salads

If your child enjoys salad, making one without croutons or hard veggies is optimal. If you want to add veggies, dicing them into small bits can make them easier to consume. Adding some shredded chicken or sliced boiled eggs can make the salad more filling and add a healthy dose of protein that carries them through the school day.

4. Soft Breakfast Items

If your child is a fan of breakfast items, they can have a healthy brunch. This can include scrambled eggs, oatmeal, grits, or pancakes. These soft foods can be easier on braces than other options because they do not require rigorous chewing. It also provides your child with a unique lunch item. 

5. Well-Blended Smoothies

Smoothies can be a lunch entrée in and of themselves. For example, they can have blended fruit or protein in them. Well-blended smoothies are a simple option packed with nutrition and one of the safest lunch options for children with braces. 

There are many more lunch entrées your child can eat, but these five ideas will help get you started. They can also easily be paired with the sides and dessert options listed below!

What Sides Can My Child Have at Lunchtime?

There are plenty of sides that suit children with braces. Here are a few delicious and soft choices that will help keep their dental wear intact while enhancing their meal experience:

1. French Fries

French fries are a classic choice for children. These are paired well with many lunch dishes and are typically soft and easy to bite into. 

2. Cheese Puffs

Cheese puffs usually melt in your mouth, unlike their crunchy counterparts. This soft chip choice can make a delicious and satisfying side.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is a healthy choice that requires minimal chewing. It comes in many different flavors and with or without fruit or other add-ins, making for a versatile side.

4. Soft Cheese

Soft cubed or grated cheese can be a good side that adds some protein to your child’s meal. Many children love cheese, and it can be an exciting choice.

5. Cooked Veggies

Some children enjoy veggies. However, hard and crunchy veggies can wreak havoc on braces. Some good veggie options include tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cooked squash and zucchini, and diced and peeled cucumbers. 

Any side that is soft to chew and easy to bite into can be used at lunchtime. These five are a mere sample of the types of foods you can use, and they go well with the desserts listed below.

What Are Some Dessert Ideas for Kids with Braces?

In addition to an entreé and side, many children love a dessert along with their lunch. To help keep them from feeling left out, here are five options that are easy on braces:

1. Pudding Cups

Pudding cups come in many flavors, from butterscotch to double chocolate. Smooth and easy to eat, pudding cups can be a one-hit-wonder for packed or purchased lunches.

2. Jell-O

Jell-O is another soft option with a variety of flavors to choose from. Cafeterias usually have it on hand, or it can be purchased in ready-to-go cups from the store. 

3. Soft or Sliced Fruit

Fruit is a healthy dessert option that offers a sweet taste, a little bit of natural sugar, and a satisfactory ending to many dishes. Hard fruits like apples should be avoided with braces, but other options like orange slices, blueberries, and raspberries add fresh flavor to many meals.

4. Soft Granola Bars

From cookies and cream to peanut butter and chocolate-flavored granola bars, this filling addition can add a sweet taste to any kid’s lunch. However, some granola bars are hard and full of nuts. Finding a soft granola bar is better for children with braces.

5. Soft Cookies

Like soft granola bars, cookies that are easy to eat can create a diverse option for children. Children typically adore sweets and will likely welcome a soft cookie as a delectable dessert.

These five dessert choices help complete your child’s lunch, keeping them full and satisfied. Adding a dessert can also help them feel like they are not missing out while eating with braces.

How Can I Help My Child Keep Their Braces Clean?

Orthodontics of Santa Barbara recommends sending your child to school with a small toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss picks so they can clean their teeth and braces after lunch. Having a small dental kit prepared will help them keep everything intact while eliminating embarrassing encounters like stuck food or dirty brackets.

Do You Have More Questions About Your Child’s Braces?

Orthodontics of Santa Barbara recommends soft foods and small bites to help preserve your child’s dental wear. Foods that are sticky, hard, or chewy should generally be avoided. Luckily, there are still plenty of items your child can have! Packing or purchasing a lunch with soft, bite-sized pieces and giving them a small dental kit to take to school can help them maintain their braces from Orthodontics of Santa Barbara. If you have more questions about what foods are acceptable for braces, simply reach out to our friendly office in Santa Barbara, CA!

If you are unsure what foods are best for braces or it is time for your child’s dental appointment, contact Orthodontics of Santa Barbara or call our California office at (805) 979-9070!

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