Chewing gum has always been a point of concern for individuals with braces. With the fear of getting gum stuck in the metal brackets or bending wires, many people are left wondering if it’s truly safe to chew gum with braces. The answer, like many things in life, is not entirely black and white.
In the past, orthodontists strongly discouraged patients with braces from chewing gum. The sticky nature of gum posed a significant risk to the dental work, and traditional gums contained high amounts of sugar, which could lead to cavities. However, recent advancements in gum formulation have brought about numerous sugar-free options that are now considered safer for people with braces.
While it is still best to avoid chewing gum altogether when wearing braces, if you decide to indulge, ensure you choose a sugar-free variety that poses a lesser risk to your brackets and wires. Keep in mind that despite this newfound freedom, it is essential to remain cautious and prioritize the health of your teeth throughout the orthodontic treatment process.
Can You Chew Gum with Braces?
One common question that arises when talking about braces is whether or not you can chew gum with them. Traditionally, many orthodontists advised against chewing gum with braces due to the potential for damage to the dental work and the presence of sugar in most gums, which can lead to cavities.
However, times have changed and there are now sugar-free gum options available that people with braces can enjoy. Some orthodontic specialists aren’t that negative about chewing gum while wearing braces, but it is essential to choose sugar-free options. Sugar-filled gum can cause bacteria to coat the teeth, which can lead to negative impact on oral health.
Not only are sugar-free gums a safer choice, but they also offer certain benefits. Chewing gum can actually help relieve braces pain, as the mechanics of chewing increase blood flow to the gums, thereby reducing inflammation. Alternatively, if you prefer to avoid chewing gum altogether, options like over-the-counter pain medications or ice packs against your cheeks can also help.
It is important for brace wearers to follow their orthodontist’s recommendations and, if allowed, choose sugar-free gum options. And although it is now possible to chew gum while wearing braces, it it essential to consider the potential risks and benefits, as well as discuss any concerns with your orthodontist.
The Risks of Chewing Gum with Braces
Damage to Braces
Chewing gum with braces can potentially cause damage to your dental work. Although there are now many sugar-free gum options available, the physical act of chewing gum can still pose a risk to the brackets and wires of braces. Chewing gum can tug at the brackets and, while they may not come off entirely, the pressure can bend or warp the wires around them. If you notice any physical warping, it is essential to seek immediate attention from your orthodontist.
Gum is inherently sticky, and consuming it while wearing braces can create several problematic situations. The stickiness of gum can easily become trapped in the brackets and wires, leading to complications and difficulties with cleaning. In addition, this can attract bacteria and food debris, increasing the risk of tooth decay and cavities. The high sugar content found in many traditional gums can also be harmful to your dental health, especially when combined with the difficulty of effectively cleaning around braces.
To minimize the risks associated with chewing gum while wearing braces, it is recommended to:
- Choose sugar-free gum options
- Chew gum sparingly and carefully
- Maintain good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly
- Consult with your orthodontist regarding any concerns or potential issues related to gum and braces
Alternatives to Gum Chewing
While chewing gum with braces can be risky, there are safer alternatives that can still help you maintain fresh breath and satisfy your urge to chew without jeopardizing your treatment progress.
Orthodontic Approved Gum
Orthodontic approved gum, made with xylitol, is a safe option for those with braces. Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute that can prevent cavities and improve oral health. Here are some popular xylitol gum brands:
Make sure to check the label and confirm that the gum is made with xylitol to ensure its safety for braces.
Sugar-Free Hard Candies
Another alternative to gum chewing is sugar-free hard candies. These candies can provide a similar sensation to chewing gum while being gentler on braces.
Some popular sugar-free hard candy options include:
- Jolly Rancher Sugar-Free Hard Candy
- Life Savers Sugar-Free Hard Candy
- Werther’s Original Sugar-Free Hard Candies
Always read the label to ensure the candies are indeed sugar-free.
Breath mints are a quick and easy way to freshen your breath without any chewing necessary. Opt for sugar-free mints to minimize the risk of cavities.
Here are a few sugar-free breath mint options:
- Ice Breakers Sugar-Free Mints
- Altoids Smalls Sugar-Free Mints
- Mentos Sugar-Free Breath Mints
Remember, it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices, like brushing and flossing twice a day, cleaning your teeth after meals, and drinking plain water to achieve the same results as chewing gum.
Tips for Safe Gum Chewing
Choosing the Right Gum
To chew gum safely with braces, it’s essential to choose the right type of gum. Avoid sticky, gummy, or hard gums, as these can cause damage to your braces’ wires or brackets. Instead, opt for sugar-free gum, as it is less sticky and may even help increase saliva production, which can assist in washing away food particles and bacteria in your mouth. Some sugar-free gum options include gums containing xylitol, which is a natural sweetener that has been shown to have dental benefits.
Chewing Gently and Slowly
When chewing gum with braces, it’s crucial to chew gently and slowly to prevent any damage to your braces. Overzealous chewing could cause wires or brackets to loosen or break. To reduce the likelihood of this happening:
- Make sure to start with a small piece of gum
- Chew slowly and deliberately, making sure not to apply too much force
- Avoid biting down on the gum with your front teeth, as this could put stress on your braces
- If you feel any resistance or discomfort while chewing, stop and evaluate if the gum is causing any issues with your braces
By choosing the appropriate type of gum and employing mindful chewing techniques, you can safely enjoy gum while wearing braces while minimizing potential risks.
Chewing gum with braces can be a bit of a controversial topic. On one hand, some studies suggest that chewing sugar-free gum might have some benefits, such as reducing cavities, increasing blood flow to the gums, and helping wash away food particles and bacteria trapped within braces. On the other hand, chewing gum can also potentially damage the brackets and bend the wires, leading to unwanted tooth movement and prolonging orthodontic treatment.
If you do decide to chew gum while wearing braces, it’s important to:
- Choose sugar-free gum to avoid increasing the risk of cavities
- Avoid sticky or crunchy varieties that could cause more significant damage to your braces
- Chew gum sparingly and with caution
However, it might be best to avoid chewing gum altogether and explore alternatives for managing pain and maintaining oral hygiene, such as:
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Applying ice packs to the cheeks for inflammation relief
- Rinsing the mouth with water or using interdental brushes to remove trapped food particles
In conclusion, while it’s not entirely off-limits, the potential risks and complications associated with chewing gum while wearing braces make it a less-than-ideal habit. Instead, consider opting for safer alternatives to ensure that your braces stay in good condition and your orthodontic treatment remains on track.