20+ Soft Foods that Comfort Kids After Orthodontia

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Any kid subject to orthodontia work is going to struggle with discomfort as well as hunger. Here’s our list of soft foods to comfort kids after a trip to the ortho or other dental work.

Once you’ve loaded up on some good eats for your kiddo, be sure to take some time to chill together. Check out our list of Practically Free Family Night Ideas to Try with Your Kids.

a dish of applesauce next to two large jars of applesauce with a green apple and a spoon.

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Cavities, palatal expanders, dental implants, braces, wisdom teeth, oral surgery — these are just a few of the challenges your children and teens may face. As a result, their mouths will be sore and they’ll need a soft food diet at some point. 

You want to provide them with healthy eating options, but sometimes moms have just too much going on to get too creative with soft food ideas. Yet, you also don’t want to be worrying about cooking for multiple diets.

Over the years my kids have experience a wide range of mouth pain from palatal expanders, retainers, and braces, to Invisalign and multiple extractions of wisdom teeth. Each time, there’s been a challenging season of what to feed them since their mouths are so sore.

Lucky for them, I broke my jaw in college, so I can definitely empathize with mouth pain and an inability to chew regular foods. I made it my practice to develop soft food recipes that are both affordable and delicious — as well as easy to prep.

Why Do This

This list makes it easier. The general advice to prepare your kids “soft foods” can feel overwhelming when you’re used to a regular diet of pizza and tacos. Having a list ready for soft food diets can be really helpful. Bookmark your favorites and let us know in the comments what works best for you.

You want your kid to eat. When chewing hurts, you want to make sure your kid can eat! You don’t want to compound hangry-ness with mouth pain.

glass blender filled with fruit and yogurt for a smoothie.

Tips for Success

Stick to flavors your kids enjoy. Now is not the time to test out new flavors and a soft diet on your child. They want comfort and are more likely to gobble down foods they enjoy, even if they can’t actually chew them.

Don’t bulk cook. Unless you know your kid absolutely loves a certain food, don’t make a big batch. It could be wasted time, money, and food. Test out new things in small batches to make sure it passes the test.

Take good notes. You don’t want to recreate the wheel the next time someone in the family needs to eat soft foods. Keep track of what’s well-received so you can make it again sometime.

Don’t kill the craving completely. Too much of a good thing can be…. too much! Don’t serve the same soft foods across the entire period, otherwise, your child may associate it with pain. Instead, vary things a bit so there are no bad associations with foods.

Pay attention to doctor instructions. In some instances, such as wisdom tooth extraction, there are certain foods, particularly berries with seeds, that are off-limits. Heed medical instructions, no matter what the internet may say.

Bulk up nutrition. There are lots of things you can add to smoothies, purees, and soups that will increase their nutrients. Consider adding cooked vegetables, protein powder, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and fruits.

ramekin of chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream on a white dish with a spoon.


What are soft foods to eat?

Soft foods can include smoothies and purees. Applesauce and mashed potatoes are common purees, but you can also puree other cooked foods, such as apricots, carrots, peas, peaches, and sweet potatoes. Scrambled eggs, egg salad, and chicken noodle soup are also good options if crunchy bits like celery are left out.

How can you make soft foods?

Many fruits and vegetables can be cooked until very very soft. Depending on the presence of seeds, you can serve as is or strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds. A high speed blender can also be effective to make things very soft.

What can you add to soft foods to make them more nutritious? 

There are lots of things you can add to bulk things up, such as cottage cheese, protein powder, and Greek yogurt.

Soft Foods when You Can’t Chew

At first, you’ll want very soft foods, those that don’t need any chewing at all. These are all great options.

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All-natural real food ingredients blend up into a tasty, sweet concoction that kids of all ages will love.
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Create an easy and delicious homemade butternut squash puree in just minutes with this simple recipe to use in soups and baked goods!
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Instant Pot Tomato Soup
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Enjoy a delicious, plant-based Roast Vegetable Soup alongside good bread and a big salad. It makes for a filling and comforting dinner.
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bowl of baked oatmeal with milk.

Soft Foods that Have Some Texture

After awhile, your child may be able to chew, but still need to eat very soft foods. These options work, just be sure to watch for nuts and seeds, particularly fruit seeds.

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Start the morning with a cheerful breakfast. This Vegan Baked Oatmeal is easy to bake and full of delicious sweet-tart raspberries.
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Cream Of Rice Recipe - Good Cheap Eats
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Boxed hot cereal is blah, but homemade Cream of Rice is delicious! Cooked in milk and cream for a creamy texture, it provides a great start to the day. Avoid toppings until kids can chew more easily.
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Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
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Chicken Noodle Soup is an easy and economical dish. Stir up a pot of chicken broth with tender egg noodles, chunks of chicken, and slivers of vegetables.
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Ultimate Cheesy Stuffed Potatoes (51 cents/serving)
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What works for you?

Leave a comment below and let us know what works for you.

This post was originally published on January 18, 2012. It has been updated for content and clarity.

collage of soft foods, with text overlay.

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  1. Jessica, you read my mind! Child 2 has just had braces put in this week. He’s going ok now, but will also have 2 teeth out later on. Bookmarking this post for reference then!

  2. My daughter just had a spacer put on the roof of her mouth. We are still figuring out what she can tolerate. She has food allergies, anxiety and some texture issues. Some of these suggestions will help.

  3. When my daughter had all 4 wisdom teeth out, we made a lot of shakes. It became a competition to see who could come up with the best tasting, most unique drink. Here are some of our favorites: chocolate frozen yogurt, smooth peanut butter, and milk; vanilla ice cream mixed with egg nog (she had her surgery in December); strawberry yogurt with chocolate milk; (not sure I would call this last one a shake but it tasted like a blueberry muffin, so yum!) birthday cake ice cream with blueberry/pomegranate V8 splash. As straws were a big no-no, a spoon works well.
    I also used a lot of milk in place of water for condensed soups, oatmeal and instant potatoes (don’t judge me! ) to make sure she got enough protein as that is vital for wound healing.

  4. If I remember correctly (I skimmed the responses but forgive me if I am repeating someone else) after getting wisdom teeth out, it is no straws! Just tossing that out there.

  5. My oldest has had a lot of orthodontic and 2 oral surgeries so we know this one well. He would drink Carnation Instant Breakfast shakes when he couldn’t chew, as well as the things on your list. After he could chew soft foods, he liked canned peaches and bananas. I can’t imagine breaking your jaw – ouch!

  6. I’m the unlucky soul in our house. I enjoy eating tricked out refried beans. I add some salsa ,melt cheese and add guacamole and sour cream to them(they’re nice and soft even with the salsa addition). I also was told that ice cream, in addition to being a treat, helps relieve some of the swelling that comes with dental work.

  7. three kids – three sets of braces – only the boy remains in them and if I make any sort of pasta he basically inhales it without chewing – but he’s a pasta boy 🙂

    Soups and yogurts and smoothies always worked for the gals

  8. My son had his wisdom teeth out last week. All he wanted to eat were mashed potatoes and Panera Bread potato soup.

  9. Our son just had his wisdom teeth out several weeks ago. I have a recipe for “zesty potato soup” which is very tasty and I put it in the blender for the first day. I also made vegetable soup and blended it up, and he ate it in the dim, dim light (for everyone’s sake since it looked nasty). Milkshakes with chocolate ice cream, protein powder and peanut butter was a huge hit, and he also really liked the fish. Pudding and Jello was also served, but he preferred the more filling foods (he is 16).

  10. It’s been a long time ago, but on the night we’d had our braces tightened, Mom always made spaghetti!

  11. Shakes and mashed potato are the favorites here. I often treat the kids to a jamba juice smoothie right after their appt. The ice cold drink helps with the pain.

  12. I used to be an orthodontic assistant and I had braces, so I can sympathize! Here’s what we recommended:
    pasta, rice, yogurt, soup (this is a big one!), mashed anything, protein shakes, ice cream=), ground meats (as opposed to chicken breast and the like, too tough for sore mouths), oatmeal and scrambled eggs. And lots of patience and some ibuprofen.

  13. I ate so much applesauce when I had braces that now I can’t stand the stuff. It kind of makes me teeth ache to eat it, just from the memory. Thanks for other ideas for when my kids are in the same boat.

  14. Hated going to the orthodontist! I had to go back in my mid 20’s to get my lower retainer repaired and it felt like post traumatic stress disorder. I liked thick hearty soups, milk shakes, pudding, and rice.

  15. Cocowheats (cooked cereal) egg salad, lots of ice cream and pudding. Mini containers of yogurt, applesauce and pudding are good if you are going on car trip – just pack in insulated container

  16. This combo began when I had a horrible sore throat, years ago, but is perfect for sore days after ortho visits: Cream of Wheat, with a bit of brown sugar, peanut butter, and handful of chocolate chips melted/stirred in… and don’t forget several more choc chips to garnish the top and stir/swirl in your bowl. It is a huge family favorite anytime, at our house.

  17. My ortho told us not to do soft foods after my son had regular braces put on. He said it would make it take longer for the soreness to go away. They even gave us a hard plastic thing my son dubbed his “chew toy” for him to chew on. It was supposed to help toughen stuff up. Its funny how they all have different recommendations.

    That said, we always get milk shakes after dental work, it’s a tradition now!

    1. Well, that’s interesting. I’ve never heard that — and we’ve had two different orthos.

  18. My daughter just got braces last week. Fortunately, she love smoothies and soups. Now she can chew most anything if cut into small pieces. Kitchen scissors to the rescue!

  19. When I had braces my mom (of 4) took us to some place where we had to chew right away. My sister and I usually had Subway and my brothers usually went for a burger and a malt. I think it must have helped because I never had trouble chewing. But I wish I would have had these recipes when I had my wisdom teeth out!

    1. I still have my wisdom teeth. And since I am a lightweight when it comes to dental work (the anesthesia knocks me loopy for days), I’m taking my wisdom teeth to the grave. 😉

  20. What a great post! These are nice, healthy suggestions, too!

    My son’s favorite comfort food (after a trip to the ortho, or otherwise) is ramen noodles with lots of garlic, green onions, and tender veg. He also likes hot sauce on it- somehow the burn helps to cancel out some of the pain. (-:

    1. Actually the hot peppers in the hot sauce have capsacin in them which are a natural anti inflammatory or pain reliever. (I forget which one.)

  21. such a good list. My oldest just got braces two days ago and we are learning what he can tolerate to chew and not chew. Applesauce and pb&J are his friend right now. Anything he can mush against the roof of his mouth.

    1. Exactly. My oldest is finally done with braces. His appetite is so thankful!

  22. My sister had jaw surgery in high school and loved the campbell’s BLT soup. I thought it was gross, but whatever.
    I, on the other hand, really liked smoothies with peanut butter in them.

  23. My oldest has had quite a bit of dental work done and we usually go out (for a treat) to Panera Bread for kids mac n cheese for lunch following his procedures. They offer mac n cheese and yogurt for kids, while mom gets a soup and a salad – win, win!!

    1. Definitely a win-win. Love Panera, but haven’t been there much since we moved back to CA. It used to be my weekly stop.

  24. Thank you for posting this!!!! My 7-year-old has to have 5 teeth pulled soon to make room for his adult teeth to come in. I was wondering what to give him after as I figured his mouth would be quite sore.