Humans love—and have always loved—chewing gum. If you read our post about the weird ways we used to clean our teeth, you’ll remember some of the ways people have been getting their freshening fix for centuries: tree sap, sweet grass, and wax to name a few. It’s no wonder, then, that one of the first questions people have about braces is “Can I still chew gum?” We hear that chewing gum is forbidden, but then talk to friends or read online articles and find conflicting advice. Today we’ll give you the information you need to make informed decisions about gum and braces health.
The Short Answer: No
It’s really best to avoid chewing gum while you’re wearing braces. Any sticky substances, gum included, put them at risk. Gum may not pull your brackets off, but if it gets stuck, you could bend the wires that connect your brackets in the process of trying to untangle the mess. Even the simple act of chewing gum can bend the wires, sticky or not. Best case, you notice that you’ve bent the wire and have to quickly find time for an appointment to get it straightened out. Worst (and more likely) case, you don’t notice, and your teeth subtly start moving toward the bend before you get the chance to straighten it back out, lengthening your entire treatment time.
The bottom line is that it’s best to stop chewing gum while you have your braces on. It’s a small sacrifice to make to secure your future with beautifully straightened teeth!
But My Friend Said…
Of course, there’s always an older sibling or friend to contend with, who said they chewed gum while they had braces and never had a problem. To make matters even more complicated, some articles and reports do advocate for gum chewing with braces. There is some evidence to suggest that chewing gum can relieve the pain of new braces and calm down gum inflammation, due to the increase in blood flow it causes. Some sources also suggest that sugar-free gum carries less risk of stickiness, and recommend it as an alternative to flossing, as the increased saliva it produces washes away dangerous bacteria.
But is this enough reward for the risk? Even if these reports do have truth to them, there are other ways to achieve the benefits they describe that don’t put your braces in harm’s way.
If you’re worried about braces pain, regularly chewing gum can actually make your teeth hurt for longer, as the pressure and bending can move the teeth into unexpected positions. Most over-the-counter pain relievers will do the trick for the short period of discomfort you may feel after adjustments, and you can also drink cold water or use an ice pack to decrease inflammation. When it comes to washing away bacteria, the best thing to do is simply stay hydrated—you’ll be fueling your body to do its job naturally.
But what about that fresh feeling? Sometimes, in between brushings, we want a little freshness boost. To knock out two birds with one stone, drink water infused with lemon or lime. You’ll be hydrating yourself and freshening your breath at the same time. If you just love the sensation of chewing, try some less hard and sticky alternatives like ginger slices or peppermint herbs. And as long as you don’t chew them up, regular mints should be fine in a pinch (just beware of the extra sugar!).
At Birmingham Orthodontics, our mission is simple: we create smiles. Not only do we straighten the crooked grin, fix the bite, and adjust the jaw, we also brighten yearbooks, help young people come to like their looks, and give adults the confidence they have wanted for a long, long time. We also believe in our staff. Our culture of continuous learning has allowed us to host monthly training sessions for each team and bring in leading industry consultants to help keep us ahead of the curve. Contact us for a free consultation, or any questions you might have.