If you're a regular gum chewer, you may be disappointed to learn that your orthodontist views gum as something you shouldn't chew while you have your braces on. While you may not see the point of avoiding gum, because it isn't hard enough to break your braces like other foods you're told not to eat, it is important to follow your orthodontist's instructions here. Chewing gum may extend your treatment time and may even damage your teeth. Read this article to learn why you avoid it.
How Chewing Gum Affects Your Braces
If you're wearing traditional braces that use brace posts and wires to straighten your teeth, you need to make sure that the posts stay on your teeth and the wires stay fixed to the posts in the right position. While chewing gum isn't likely to shift your posts, which are cemented on to your teeth, it may affect your brace wires.
Brace wires are thin and flexible; however, they should stay where your orthodontist puts them. The job of these wires is to guide your teeth into their correct positions and to hold them there. If you chew gum, you may put pressure on your brace wires and shift them out of position. If your wires aren't in the right place, your teeth can't move into the right place. This may add to your treatment time if your teeth don't move where they're supposed to go or move into the wrong positions because your wires got bent or pushed out of shape.
How Chewing Gum With Braces Affects Your Teeth
While you may be able to chew gum without it getting stuck on your teeth, your braces add another element to the mix. Chewing gum can stick to brace posts and to wires, and cleaning gum off your braces is a lot harder than you think.
Gum can get stuck around your posts and behind your wires in places you can't reach. If you can't see gum to remove it or can't reach it to get it off your braces, the gum may have negative effects on your teeth. This is especially a problem if you chew regular gums that contain sugars and acids. Leave these substances on or in between your teeth for any length of time, and the bacteria they attract may increase your risk of tooth decay or dental erosion.
While you can try to clean gum off your braces if it does get stuck, you should be very careful not to push your wires out of position when you try to get to hard-to-reach sticky bits. If you do chew gum with braces on and can't clean it all off, you may need to get your orthodontist to sort the problem out for you.