Can you chew gum with braces?
People wearing braces mostly ask this question. Braces are dental devices that are used to correct teeth problems like crooked teeth, overcrowding and teeth that are misaligned. They can be worn by both adults and children. Wearing braces will make the teeth to slowly straighten and align to give you a normal jaw and also make you have normal bite.
Braces are brackets and wires that can be made of metal or any other material, which are fixed to the teeth to change the position and correct abnormalities. There are many types of braces that can be used like:
- Metal braces
- Ceramic braces
- Self-ligating braces
- Lingual braces
- Clear aligners like Invisalign
CAN YOU CHEW GUM WITH BRACES
The question most people with braces ask is if they can chew gum while these braces are still fixed to their teeth. Wearing braces, retainers or invisalign requires that you avoid some foods, in fact your orthodontist will mention some foods including gums you should stay away from, this may be one of the downsides of braces.
Unlike the traditional braces, today’s modern braces are made with stronger and more durable wires and brackets that can stand the risks and damages caused by chewing gums. So, patients are encouraged to chew gums with their braces but only sugar free ones.
One thing you should know is that chewing gum has benefits even to orthodontic patients. The American Dental Association (ADA) carried out a study that concluded that when you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes can help prevent tooth decay.
A study published in 2012 by the Orthodontics & Craniofacial Research concluded that chewing gum decrease both the impact and pain from the fixed appliances. The study also showed no evidence that chewing gum can increase the incidence of appliance breakage.
Another study published by the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics in 2016 concluded that chewing sugar-free gum might help orthodontic patients to use less ibuprofen in managing pain from fixed orthodontics.
Patients with braces and other fixed orthodontic appliances can only chew sugar free gums. This is because chewing gums with sugar can lead to bacteria forming in the teeth and causing:
The gums becoming inflamed due to bacterial infection which can lead to bleeding, sensitive teeth, pain when chewing, swollen gum, pus between the teeth and gums or bad smell even after brushing.
The sugars in foods can be turned to acids and plagues. These plagues when they build up can damage the teeth leading to abscess or teeth loss.
After eating sugary foods, bacteria in your mouth turn sugar into acid. With time, holes start to form in the teeth. They can start small and gradually become bigger when they are left untreated. Before chewing gum, it is important you that you speak to your orthodontist before deciding to chew gum. This is to know the type of material used for your braces.
BENEFITS OF CHEWING GUM
There are many benefits and good sides to chewing gum, some of them are:
- Loosening and removing plagues from the teeth.
- Improving breath
- Helping in removing bacteria.
- Stimulating saliva to encourage an overall healthy mouth
- Helping to strengthen tooth enamel
- Helping in whitening the teeth by providing more phosphate, calcium and fluoride to the mouth.
- Protecting the teeth.
- Helping to expel acids produced by the bacteria in plaque that can lead to tooth decay.
- Helping in fighting anxiety and stress which helps prevent teeth grinding.
Chewing gum is very beneficial to the health especially dental health. Chewing gum at least once a day after lunch or a snack is good for freshening breathe especially if the person is not accessible to to a toothbrush or does not have the opportunity to brush the teeth. Gum is perfect for loosening particles and debris after a meal.
DOWNSIDES TO CHEWING GUM WHILE WEARING BRACES
There are some reasons why people with braces should not chew gums, some of these reasons are:
- Gums can cause wires especially flexible ones to bend and this can affect how effective the braces are in straightening your teeth. Even a bend as slight as anything can change the position the teeth goes and interfere with the alignment process thereby adding more weeks to the treatment.
- Gums are sticky whether they are sugar free or not. The stickiness of the gum makes it easier for it to get stuck in the brackets and wires as well as the elastics.
- The gums sticking to the braces can make you feel tempted to remove the bands of the braces. Removing the bands can prolong treatments.
It is also not advised to replace brushing and flossing with chewing gum. In fact, the ADA, Dr. Foote and Dr. Piskai recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interproximal dental cleaners.
CAN YOU CHEW GUM WITH INVISALIGN?
Instead of the traditional wires and brackets, invisalign uses removable and clear aligners. These aligners can be removed while eating so it is always advised that you remove them before drinking and eating including gums. This is because wearing aligners while chewing gum can make the gums to become stuck inside them. The aligners can get stained if the excess saliva produced while chewing gum seeps into them. You should always remove your aligners before you chew gum.
Note: It is not advised that you remove your aligners all the time as they can :
- Cause pain
- Prolong your time of treatment
- Delay the progress your teeth is making to be straightened.
CAN YOU CHEW GUM WITH BRACES IF IT HAS ADA APPROVAL
Patients with braces and other orthodontic devices are advised to only chew gum if it is on the ADA (American Dental Association) approved list of sugar-free gums. These gums are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, sorbitol or mannitol. Sugar free gums are made without using pure sugar or additives. Some of the popular sugar free gum brands are Xylitol, Xylo Burst, Orbit, Glee Gum, Peppersmith and Pür. You can easily find them in stores and grocery stores.
GUM WITH THE ADA SEAL
The American Dental Association (ADA) seal shows that the product has been tested for safety. So any gum with this seal is considered safe and recommended for orthodontic patients including people with braces. Gums like Wrigley’s Orbit®, Extra®, and Eclipse® sugar-free chewing gums have this seal.
According to the company, Orbit, Extra, and Eclipse help fight cavities, strengthen teeth, and reduce harmful plaque acids. ADA Seal of Acceptance makes it perfectly clear to dental professionals and consumers that chewing Wrigley’s Orbit, Extra, and Eclipse sugar-free gums is a convenient and portable way to help maintain and improve oral health ( Bill Wrigley, Jr, executive chairman ).
WHAT TO DO IF GUM GETS STUCK IN THE BRACES?
If you are chewing gum and the gum gets stuck in the braces, you can do the following:
Brush your teeth to remove much of the gum as possible but this should be done gently. The brush should not be hard and you should not brush or scrub your teeth hard to avoid damaging the wires and brackets.
Use dental floss to remove the remaining gum stuck in the braces. This should help you loosen and remove the gums.
Brush your teeth gently again.
Rinse with saltwater or mouthwash.
If after all these the gums do not come out, you should see your orthodontist. A professional cleaning by your dentist or orthodontist will remove the gum without damaging or moving the wires or brackets.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT YOUR ORTHODONTIST?
If you have tried removing the stuck gum from your braces and did not succeed, you should go see your doctor. Also, you may not realize that the gums may have moved your braces slightly, it is better your orthodontist check the positions and readjust if need be.
You should also see your orthodontist if;
- You feel pain in your gums or feel there are swollen and tender.
- It feels like a wire snapped or is jutting into your cheek.
Can you chew gum while you have braces, expanders, invisalign and other dental devices? The answer is yes but you should make sure the gum is sugarless and have the American Dental Association seal on it. The gum should also be in moderation.
You should remove the gum as soon as the flavor is gone, chewing the gum continuously can make you jaw to become tired and hurt. The American Dental Association (ADA) advises orthodontic patients to chew gum for up to 20 minutes following a meal. You should check with your orthodontist if you are free to chew gum with your braces.