What Foods Should You Avoid While Wearing an Expander?

First and foremost, it’s crucial to avoid sticky and chewy foods. These types of foods can easily get stuck in the expander and be difficult to remove, causing discomfort and potential damage. Examples of sticky and chewy foods to avoid include caramel, taffy, gum, and chewy candies. Opt for softer alternatives instead.

Hard and crunchy foods should also be avoided when wearing an expander. These foods can put excessive pressure on the appliance and potentially cause it to break or become dislodged. Foods such as nuts, hard candies, and ice should be avoided. Instead, choose softer options like cooked vegetables, yogurt, and mashed potatoes.

By avoiding sticky and chewy foods, hard and crunchy foods, and foods that require excessive biting or tearing, you can ensure that your expander stays in good condition and functions properly. It’s always best to consult with your orthodontist for a comprehensive list of foods to avoid and to get personalized recommendations based on your specific case.

Sticky and Chewy Foods

Some examples of sticky and chewy foods to avoid include:

Food Reason to Avoid
Caramel It can become stuck in the expander and be difficult to remove.
Taffy It is extremely sticky and can get tangled in the expander.
Gum Chewing gum can easily get stuck in the expander and be challenging to remove.
Sticky candies These candies can adhere to the expander and be hard to clean off.
Chewy breads Breads with a chewy texture can get stuck in the expander and be difficult to dislodge.

Hard and Crunchy Foods

Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are notorious for their hard texture, which can be difficult for an expander to handle. Avoid eating peanuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and other similar foods.

Hard Candies: Hard candies can be tempting to crunch on, but they can easily damage your expander. Avoid sucking or biting down on hard candies such as lollipops, jawbreakers, and peppermints.

Ice: Chewing on ice cubes may seem refreshing, but it can be detrimental to your expander. The extreme cold and hardness of ice can cause the appliance to crack or break. It is best to avoid chewing on ice altogether.

Crunchy Snacks: Snacks like popcorn, pretzels, and chips are crunchy and can easily get stuck in your expander. The small particles can be difficult to remove and may require professional assistance to avoid any damage to the appliance.

Hard Breads: Crusty breads like baguettes and hard rolls can be challenging to bite into with an expander. The pressure exerted on the appliance can cause it to loosen or break. Opt for softer bread options instead.

Raw Vegetables: While vegetables are generally healthy, some raw vegetables like carrots and celery can be too hard and crunchy for an expander. Cook them before consuming to make them softer and easier to chew.

Remember, it is crucial to follow your orthodontist’s instructions and avoid these hard and crunchy foods to ensure the success of your expander treatment. By doing so, you can help prevent any damage or complications that may arise.

Acidic and Citrus Foods

Examples of acidic and citrus foods to avoid include:

Lemons, oranges, grapefruits: These fruits are highly acidic and can erode the enamel on your teeth. The acid can also cause irritation to the expander and the soft tissues in your mouth.

Pineapple: Pineapple is another fruit that is high in acid. It can cause discomfort and irritation to the expander and your mouth.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are acidic and can potentially damage the expander. It’s best to avoid tomato-based products, such as pasta sauce or ketchup.

Vinegar: Vinegar, including apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar, is highly acidic and can be harmful to the expander and your oral health.

Why should you avoid acidic and citrus foods?

Acidic and citrus foods can weaken the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities and decay. They can also cause discomfort and irritation to the expander, making it less effective in widening your palate.

What can you eat instead?

Instead of consuming acidic and citrus foods, opt for non-acidic fruits like bananas, strawberries, and watermelon. These fruits are less likely to cause irritation or damage to the expander. Additionally, you can enjoy a variety of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to maintain a balanced diet while wearing an expander.

Sugary and Sticky Drinks

Examples of sugary and sticky drinks to avoid include soda, fruit juices with added sugars, energy drinks, sweetened tea or coffee, and sugary sports drinks. These beverages are not only high in sugar, but they also have a sticky consistency that can adhere to the expander and the teeth.

Instead of sugary and sticky drinks, it is recommended to opt for healthier alternatives. Water is always the best choice as it not only keeps you hydrated but also helps to wash away any food particles or debris that may be stuck in the expander. Unsweetened herbal tea or infused water can also be refreshing options.

Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial when wearing an expander. Be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly after consuming any food or drink, especially sugary and sticky ones. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to clean both the expander and your natural teeth. Flossing and using mouthwash can also help to remove any remaining food particles and bacteria.

Foods with Small Particles

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are delicious and nutritious, but they can be problematic when you have an expander. The small particles can easily get caught in the expander and cause irritation. It’s best to avoid eating nuts and seeds until your expander is removed.


Popcorn is a popular snack, but it’s not ideal when you have an expander. The small popcorn kernels can easily get stuck in the expander and cause discomfort. It’s best to avoid eating popcorn until your expander is removed.


Chips, especially those with small particles like potato chips or tortilla chips, can get trapped in the expander and cause irritation. It’s best to avoid eating chips until your expander is removed.

Foods to Avoid with an Expander
Sticky and Chewy Foods
Hard and Crunchy Foods
Acidic and Citrus Foods
Sugary and Sticky Drinks
Foods with Small Particles
Hot and Spicy Foods

Hot and Spicy Foods

Here are some examples of hot and spicy foods that you should avoid:

1. Spicy Peppers

Peppers such as jalapenos, habaneros, and cayenne peppers contain capsaicin, which is the compound responsible for their spiciness. Consuming these peppers can cause a burning sensation in your mouth and throat, which can be particularly uncomfortable if you have an expander.

2. Spicy Sauces

Sauces like hot sauce, chili sauce, and salsa are often made with spicy peppers and other ingredients that can irritate your mouth. These sauces can also be acidic, which can further exacerbate any discomfort or irritation caused by the expander.

3. Spicy Seasonings

Seasonings like cayenne pepper, chili powder, and curry powder can add a kick of heat to your meals. However, they can also irritate your mouth and throat if you have an expander. It’s best to avoid using these seasonings while your expander is in place.