Before you had your braces fitted, your dentist may have recommended that you chew sugar free gum regularly after meals. While chewing this kind of gum can help keep your teeth and gums in good nick, you may have heard that you shouldn't chew gum when you're wearing braces and may be unsure whether to carry on chewing or not. What do you need to know?
Teeth Benefit from Sugar Free Gum
Before you talked about having your teeth braced your dentist may have been more than happy for you to chew gum — as long it is was a sugar free product. These gums often contain sweeteners, like xylitol, that promote good oral hygiene. For example, xylitol can reduce bacteria on your teeth and gums by up to 90%. Plus, the actual act of chewing creates more saliva which helps wash acids and sugars out of your mouth — this is especially effective after eating when your teeth have to manage the effects that food and drinks can have on them.
Braces May Not Benefit from Sugar Free Gum
When you have your braces fitted, you'll be told to avoid eating anything chewy that might damage your braces. This typically includes chewing gum which may, in some cases, dislodge the posts on your teeth and the wires connected to them that are doing the bracing work. If either of these things happen, you'll have to have extra appointments with your orthodontist to repair the damage — this could add to the time you'll wear braces.
However, you may find that sugar free gum isn't as much of a problem for braces as regular gum or bubble gum. Gum that doesn't have any sugar in it is less sticky and gluey and may be less prone to sticking to bits of your braces. Plus, it does come with the oral hygiene benefits you used to get before you were braced, which could help you keep your teeth and gums clean and problem-free.
You may find that different orthodontists have different views on whether you should continue to chew sugar free gum. Bear in mind that it's your orthodontist's opinion and knowledge of your custom braces that matters — make sure to ask whether you can safely use sugar free gum or not before you start chewing. Your orthodontist knows exactly how gum will affect your braces and will be able to make an informed recommendation.
If your orthodontist recommends that you stop chewing sugar free gum during your treatment, then you can consider sucking (but not crunching) sugar free mints that contain xylitol after meals. These will give you some of the benefits of sugar free gum without the sticky downsides.