One of the most common reservations people have toward getting braces is the changes they’ll have to make to their diet. Biting into whole apples, eating popcorn, and chewing caramel candies will all have to (temporarily) become things of the past. But perhaps worse than all of those is the prospect of not being able to indulge in chewing gum.
According to data gathered by the US census bureau, an average person in the United States will chew a whopping 1.8 lbs of gum every year. Do you really have to give up this breath-freshening treat, or can you chew gum with braces after all?
For a more definitive answer, let’s dive into the details and go over the pros and cons of chewing gum during orthodontic treatment.
Can You Chew Gum With Braces?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask.
On the one hand, chewing certain types of gum can serve as part of a healthy oral care routine. Chewing gum increases saliva production and can help flush cavity-causing debris out of your mouth. Since the CDC estimates 13.2% of children between ages 5 and 19 and 25.9% of adults between 20 and 44 have at least one untreated cavity, this is an important benefit.
Some people also claim that chewing gum with braces reduces pain and helps your teeth to move into place faster. That being said, it’s still best to avoid chewy or sticky foods while going through orthodontic treatment. It’s better to chew your meals carefully and use ice or over-the-counter painkillers to reduce discomfort.
Despite the benefits, many orthodontists will still ask their patients to avoid chewing gum altogether while they’re in treatment. It has a high tendency to stick inside of the metal hardware and can damage brackets or pull wires out of place. This delays your treatment and causes you to go in for extra repairs.
What Gum Can You Chew With Braces?
If you do decide to risk chewing gum with braces, it’s crucial to avoid any gums that contain real sugar. The first reason for this is simply that sugary gum is extremely sticky and difficult to clean out of braces. The second reason is that the sugars can adhere themselves to your teeth for long periods of time, possibly leading you to develop cavities near or behind your braces.
Instead, always check to make sure your gum is sugar-free. Sugar-free gum is less sticky and, as discussed above, can actually reduce your risk of cavities along with a good oral health regime. If you’re sensitive to artificial sweeteners, read the list of ingredients before deciding on a brand.
The American Dental Association has a list of chewing gums that meet their Seal of Acceptance criteria. These products are guaranteed to be sugar-free, safe, and effective to chew. Even so, this recommendation wasn’t made for people with braces specifically, so you should still exercise caution even when choosing gum from this list.
How to Remove Gum Stuck in Braces
If you decided to chew sugary gum against your orthodontist’s advice, you might find yourself in a sticky situation. How can you clean stuck gum out of your braces?
First, start by brushing your teeth gently with water that’s comfortably warm, not too hot. The heat can help break down the bonds in the chewing gum and make it easier to clean off. Be careful not to scrub too hard and damage your brackets.
Next, use floss to clean the areas between your teeth. This can also help loosen any gum that’s stuck on the wire or wedged behind a bracket. Rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash, swishing vigorously.
Finally, brush your teeth one final time to get rid of any lingering pieces of gum. You’ll want to be sure to use a small orthodontic toothbrush or Proxabrush to clean out all the nooks and crannies. Rinse your mouth out one final time and check to see if any chewing gum bits remain.
If there are stubborn spots of gum that you can’t get out by brushing, don’t try to remove them with your fingernails or any sort of pick. This can end up dislodging bands or brackets. Instead, make an appointment with your orthodontist to have them take a look at the problem.
Substitutes for Chewing Gum With Braces
Once you’ve decided to take the safe route and avoid chewing gum, is there any way to replace it?
No matter the reason for your gum-chewing habit, the answer is yes. As we mentioned earlier, you can use a combination of ice and over-the-counter pain relievers to lessen discomfort after getting your braces tightened.
If you’re chewing gum for cavity prevention, consider doubling down on your daily oral hygiene routine instead. You can achieve the same results by brushing and flossing twice daily, cleaning your teeth after you eat, and drinking plain water throughout the day.
For those who chew gum to freshen their breath, consider switching to sugar-free breath mints or mouthwash instead. Be careful not to chew hard mints, though, as this can cause you to break a bracket.
Many people chew gum simply as a way to keep focused or occupied. If this sounds like you, try sucking on sugar-free hard candies. As with breath mints, make sure you remember not to bite down on the candies while sucking on them.
Getting Braces in Fort Pierce
So after all of that, can you chew gum with braces? The best course of action is to ask your orthodontist for their recommendation. If you decide to chew gum regardless of their advice, make sure it’s sugar-free and always brush your teeth carefully after chewing it.
Are you looking for an orthodontist in Fort Pierce, FL or the surrounding area? If so, Jacobus Orthodontics is here for you. We offer both child and adult braces along with Invisalign treatments so anyone can achieve the straight smile of their dreams.
Contact us online or call us at 777-340-0023 to schedule your appointment today.