Sticky food is one of the first things your Orthodontist asks you to avoid. One thing that could pop into your head instantly is: Can you chew gum with braces or Invisalign?
This question would have met with an emphatic “no” in the past. But is chewing gum with braces a myth or reality? Read on to find out if you can chew gum with braces or Invisalign.
Wearing braces can be a significant change for teenagers and adults alike. Along with having dental appliances in your mouth, one also needs to be wary of what one eats. These days we come across many conflicting pieces of advice from friends, online articles, or social media about what is permissible while wearing braces and what isn’t. It can get confusing and overwhelming.
Benefits of Chewing Gum
Chewing gum has been around for a long time. Chewing gum in the form of birch bark tar with teeth imprints on them have been found and displayed at an archeological site in Denmark. It is said to be 6000 years old.
Chewing gum is known to increase saliva production and stimulate the taste receptors in your mouth. This increase in saliva helps in two ways:
- These acids released by oral bacteria form a film over the teeth, which can cause tooth decay. Saliva can help remove the acids, thereby preventing caries.
- The saliva’s function is to release calcium, fluoride, and phosphate into your mouth, and it can strengthen the enamel of your teeth.
According to this study conducted in 2016, chewing gum right after applying braces can help in subsiding pain caused due to inflammation in the gums. Chewing gum can also help freshen your mouth if you can’t brush your teeth right after a meal.
What is noteworthy is that not all gums are created the same. Chewing gum has its benefits provided it is the right kind of gum.
Regular Vs. Sugar-Free Gums
Regular gum is made with sugar, and bacteria metabolize sugar. The bacteria then produce acids that coat your teeth with biofilm, leading to cavities, tooth decay, or demineralization of your teeth.
Sugar-free gum is made of sugar alcohols such as erythritol, sorbitol, isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, or xylitol. Since these are metabolized slowly or not at all by the bacteria in your mouth, they don’t cause the ill effects of regular gum.
This is why only sugar-free gums have the approval of the American Dental Association. According to this 2021 review, using sugar-free gum in adjunct to the recommended oral hygiene of brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and flossing between teeth can benefit your teeth.
Therefore, chewing gum that is sugar-free may provide some benefits. But that doesn’t mean it is a substitute for good oral hygiene.
Chewing Gum with Braces
The brackets and wires in today’s braces are far more durable. As a result, we are better equipped to chew gum while wearing braces.
But Orthodontists mostly discourage patients from chewing gum while wearing braces because it could lengthen the treatment time. Gum is sticky, and all sticky substances risk damaging your braces. Sticky food can tug at your brackets while being chewed. They may not come off, but they can bend the wires around them.
If you notice the physical warping, then it is good for you. You can seek immediate attention from your Orthodontist. But if you do not, your teeth will start shifting according to the bend, which interferes with aligning your teeth and will ultimately stretch and delay your treatment plan.
For those prescribed elastics between the brackets, gum can get stuck on these too. You may be tempted to remove them, adding weeks to your current treatment plan.
Chewing Gum with Invisalign
Invisalign are clear, removable aligners and do not have brackets or wires. Removing Invisalign while eating or drinking anything other than water is always recommended.
Chewing gum while wearing them could damage your aligners, and some gum can get stuck on the aligner, and chewing gum can even stain your clear aligners. So, if you need to chew some gum, remove your clear aligner trays and rinse your mouth before you wear them again.
Remember that for Invisalign to work; you must wear it for the prescribed time. So, it is best to avoid chewing gum frequently.
Sugary gums are a definite no with Invisalign. You are more likely to develop cavities and tooth decay if the sugar lodges into your aligner.
How to Get Rid of Gum Stuck on Braces?
You shouldn’t panic if some chewing gum gets caught in your braces. Follow these simple steps.
- Brush off as much gum as possible using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Never use brute force to dislodge gum. It can ruin your brackets and bend the wire holding them.
- Try using the hard tip of your thread toothpick.
- Rinse your mouth using mouthwash or warm saline water.
If the above steps don’t work, visit your Orthodontist. They will be able to remove the gum debris through professional cleaning.
Alternatives to Chewing Gum
So, chewing gum with braces has a few pros and cons. While some orthodontists permit chewing sugar-free gum occasionally, some are totally against it. There are several intelligent alternatives to chewing gum with braces or Invisalign.
The easiest thing to do to help wash away cavities causing bacteria is to drink plenty of water. When your body is hydrated, it does its job of cleansing naturally.
Most orthodontists prescribe over-the-counter pain-relieving medication if the pain resulting from gum inflammation is unbearable.
As for freshness of breath, you could try adopting infused water. It is easy to make, incredibly refreshing, and has no side effects on your braces or Invisalign. You could infuse herbs like mint, basil, or peppermint in water. Regular mints also work fine as long as you don’t chew them. But remember that mints also contain sugar.
Chewing gum can have pros and cons. The safest way to care for your teeth while wearing braces is not to chew gum. But if you must, always remember to opt for sugar-free gums. Although they don’t contain sugar and are less sticky than their regular counterparts, they still can get stuck on your brackets and warp the wire.
If you wear Invisalign, it is best not to wear them while chewing gum. Sometimes you need to pause and think if the reward is worth the risk. To err on the side of caution, ask your orthodontist if you can chew gum while wearing braces.
Can You Chew Gum With Braces Or Invisalign?
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