Dr. Sturgill is an avid traveler and he’s been to some far flung destinations on mission trips. Yet, in all of his adventures, he hasn’t found a place quite like Johnson City. The amazing community, his awesome Tri-Cities braces and Invisalign patients, his family and friends and the mountain views are major contributing factors to his deep connection with the area. Another factor? The food! Thankfully, if you’re also a big fan of the culinary scene, there’s no reason for you to miss out just because you’re undergoing a smile makeover. Of course, there are a few things that will have to wait until your hardware comes off (we’re looking at you, Starburst) but, otherwise, most of your favorite treats are still fair game. We’ll cover what foods are safe to eat with braces and then give you recommendations for some of the best Johnson City, TN restaurants perfect for anyone in orthodontic treatment.
What to Eat with Braces
While everyone wants to know what to eat with braces on, the more important question is how to eat with braces on since biting into hard foods or tearing at food with your front teeth can damage your brackets. Chew with your back teeth, cut or break things into small pieces, especially if they’re hard or chewy, and take corn off of the cob. You will need to minimize sweets and drinks with lots of sugar and avoid really sticky foods like caramels, tootsie rolls and toffee and hard stuff (e.g., ice, hard taco shells, whole, raw apples or carrots, bagels, Jolly Ranchers). Other than that, life will go on as usual.
When you first get your braces put on and after adjustments, or when you pop in a new set of Invisalign aligners, your teeth might be slightly sensitive. Soft foods and cold snacks and drinks will be soothing and easy to eat. Soup, yogurt, mashed potatoes, smoothies, steamed vegetables, soft meats, and pasta are a few good ideas. Now, as to what type of restaurants to eat at with braces, we’re full of ideas!
Where to Eat Out with Braces On in Johnson City, TN
- Tupelo Honey – 300 Buffalo Street – Tupelo Honey is definitely one of our favorite Johnson City, TN restaurants and they really know how to serve up those traditional southern dishes using local, farm-fresh ingredients. They also have a top-notch kids’ menu. When it’s nice out, try to snag a table on the patio. The fried green tomatoes, sweet potato pancakes, southern shakshuka and shrimp and grits are all tasty and get the orthodontic seal of approval.
- Mona Lisa’s Gelato & Café – 305 W. Oakland Avenue – Mona Lisa’s artisanal gelato is incredibly delicious. Of course, being that Dr. Sturgill went to dental school, we have to say that sugary treats are best enjoyed in moderation to avoid cavities and keep your teeth healthy throughout treatment. For those special occasions when you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, Mona Lisa’s is the place to go. They make their gelato fresh every day using Mayfield cream and ingredients imported from Italy. The menu changes frequently but we haven’t had a flavor we didn’t love yet. In addition to the gelato, they have another one of the best braces-friendly foods: soup! When your teeth are feeling sensitive, soup will give you the nutrients you need without much chewing. Check in with their Facebook page to see which soups are in the day’s lineup.
- The Firehouse Restaurant – 627 W. Walnut Street – We couldn’t have a list of where to eat out with braces on in Johnson City without a serious BBQ joint. The Firehouse Restaurant is always a good choice for dining out with the family. While you shouldn’t bite into food with your front teeth like we noted earlier, you can take the meat off the ribs, which won’t be difficult considering how tender everything is. Or, bypass the problem with their outstanding Carolina pulled pork.
- Café Lola – 1805 N. Roan Street – This cute spot has lots of fresh, seasonal, internationally-inspired options and a stellar brunch. It’s geared towards grownups but plenty of our patients are adults and they should be able to indulge too! The menu consistently features new additions. Some of our favorites that happen to be braces friendly include the seared ahi tuna with avocado and tomato salsa for dinner and the stuffed French toast for brunch.
- Label – 112 Tipton Street – Label has an eclectic menu with cuisine from around the globe. We’re big fans of the friendly service, the large, open feel, and industrial décor. Their hand-rolled, fresh-to-order sushi is soft and will give you a good dose of flavor, protein, and veggies while being easy on the mouth. Go when you’re hungry because you’ll want to try the fried pickles and spinach dip too!
- Gourmet and Company – 214 East Mountcastle Drive – This is another pick for the adults but we’d be remiss not to mention it considering it’s locally-owned and one of the most talked about Tri-Cities restaurants. The Gourmet and Company gift shop is pretty cool too. The grilled peach salad, roasted pasture raised chicken, truffle fries and Cruze Farms buttermilk ricotta gnocchi taste fantastic and are great for braces patients.
- Scratch Brick Oven – 100 E. Unaka Avenue – We’re often asked, “Is it okay to eat pizza with braces?” The answer is, yes. We’d never ask you to give up the cheesy goodness. However, you should use care and cut it into tiny pieces and skip the crust. Scratch is our go-to place for pizza in Johnson City. They built their own brick oven, which they use to create wood-fired pizza with homemade sauce and dough. They have some creative combinations and if you’re brave, choose the Trust Pizza and let the chef pick the toppings and sauce combo for you.
- Mid City Grill – 106 S. Commerce Street – The Mid City Grill offers a rare mixture of burgers and meat, vegetarian and vegan options that are all equally as mouthwatering. You can’t go wrong with the fried banana peppers, the classic cheeseburger or the vegan “unburger.” Just like we mentioned with pizza, when eating burgers and sandwiches, cut them up so they’re bite-sized and chew with your back teeth.
- The Main Street Pizza Company – 300 East Main Street – The Main Street Pizza Company has tons of options including pasta made from scratch and hand-made, gourmet pizza. The restaurant is big on supporting local farmers, only uses fresh, whole ingredients and sources as much as possible from River Creek Farm. They have two locations and are open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining in Kingsport and Johnson City. The Johnson City location now serves breakfast too. Aside from the pizza, the Storie & Sturgill team members give a big thumbs up to the stuffed mushrooms and salads.