With braces, the biggest daily adjustment is following the recommended do’s and don’ts for what you can and cannot eat. Some foods can damage or even break your braces — like food that’s too hard, crunchy, or chewy. Keeping your braces in tip-top shape is key since any repairs can delay treatment, meaning you’ll wear your braces for longer than you first thought!
Apart from the main guidelines for foods to avoid with braces, we’ve had many patients ask us, “Can you chew gum with braces?” Fair question! In general, we at Davis Orthodontics don’t recommend our braces patients chew gum. But other orthodontists or sources might disagree and say chewing gum with braces is okay. So what should you do?
Here, we want to dive a bit deeper into the question, “Can you chew gum with braces?” so you can make an informed decision.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Chewing Gum With Braces
Why does Dr. Buddy and the orthodontist team at Davis Orthodontics say “No, thanks!” to chewing gum with braces? As we mentioned, some foods — like gum — can damage or break braces. In our expert orthodontic experience, we’ve seen that chewing gum while you’re wearing braces is a scenario best avoided if you want your braces treatment to go smoothly. It can be tricky to remove gum from braces if it gets stuck and you could accidentally damage your wires while trying to dislodge it.
Damage to your braces can sidetrack your progress: even a slight bend in your wires can cause your teeth to move off their treatment path. And if you don’t notice the damage and see your orthodontist right away for repairs, your teeth will continue to move further out of place. The result? More time added onto your treatment to fix the damaged wire and redirect your teeth movements back to their intended path.
But… Are There Times When Chewing Gum With Braces is Okay?
Let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment. If you were a daily gum chewer before you got braces, you might be wondering if certain occasions come up when we say “Yes” to “Can I chew gum with braces… pleeeease??”
Again, Dr. Buddy really doesn’t recommend it. Typical reasons for chewing gum like freshening your breath, curbing a nicotine habit, or alleviating nervousness, can be addressed with more braces-friendly alternatives to gum (which we’ll talk about in the next section).
But if you really, really need to chew gum, your Upstate South Carolina orthodontist suggests choosing sugar-free gum, the kind sweetened with Xylitol. We have to caution you though that sugar-free gum still has the stickiness factor that makes chewing gum with braces problematic. But at least it doesn’t introduce sugars onto your teeth and braces.
If you really must chew gum with braces, here are a few of the pros to chewing sugar-free gum:
Sugar-free gum can prevent cavities – Xylitol can help prevent cavities? How? Xylitol isn’t metabolized by your oral bacteria the same way sugar is. Without a food source, sugar-hungry oral bacteria can’t multiply as fast as it does with sugar. Less bacteria means less enamel-damaging acids on your teeth that make your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay. Plus, chewing sugar-free gum with braces encourages saliva production, helping wash away bacteria and food debris.
Sugar-free gum can alleviate braces discomfort – Some of our patients have heard that chewing is a way to alleviate braces pain from tightening or adjustments. We’ve been asked, “Can you chew sugar-free gum with braces to help braces pain?” Simply put, yes. The mechanics of chewing increases blood flow to your gums, which reduces inflammation. But you can avoid chewing gum altogether to relieve gum inflammation with options like over-the-counter pain medications or ice packs against your cheeks.
Alternatives to Chewing Gum With Braces
Are you wanting to chew gum to freshen your breath, curb a nicotine habit, or calm nerves? Before you go ahead, let’s talk about non-gum options you can turn to instead.
To freshen breath: Try sugar-free mints or mouth sprays to curb bad breath. Or drink water with lemon or other citrus, which rinses, freshens, and hydrates your mouth.
To help kick a smoking habit: There are plenty of non-gum alternatives like patches, nasal sprays, and inhalers.
To calm nerves: Try inhaling essential oils like lavender or sandalwood, stretching, or a stress-releasing breathing technique.
What Happens If I’m Chewing Gum with Braces and the Gum Gets Stuck?
So after thinking about the question, “Can people chew gum with braces?” and learning more about it, you decided to go ahead and pop that gum in your mouth. But, oh no! You got gum stuck in your braces. What do you do?
Use your toothbrush to get as much of the gum out as you can. But don’t scrub too hard — you don’t want to damage your braces. For gum stuck around your brackets or between your teeth, use dental floss to pick it out. If there’s still some gum left, try another round of gentle brushing. And if you’ve still got bits of gum in your braces, we suggest making an appointment with your orthodontist right away.
Dr. Buddy and the team at Davis Orthodontics can provide a full cleaning without risking damage to your braces. However, if you don’t need our help with removing gum from your braces, at least let us know at your next appointment that it happened. We can check for potential movement of your braces that can set your teeth off-course.
Your Simpsonville Orthodontist Answers, “Can I Chew Gum With Braces?” and Other Braces Questions
Have any other questions about chewing gum with braces? Are you wondering, “Can you chew gum with Invisalign?” (The answer is yes). Or do you have other questions about wearing braces? Dr. Buddy is here to answer all your braces questions and help you make the best decisions when it comes to caring for them.
Contact us at any of Davis Orthodontics’ eight Upstate SC locations, from Simpsonville to Berea to Walhalla.