The Benefits of (Occasionally) Chewing Gum With Braces
Carelessly smacking gum is never a bright idea for an orthodontic patient, but the occasional chew may actually provide relief from pain and soreness associated with braces. Dr. Hussain, and orthodontist in South Edmonton, West Edmonton, and Sherwood Park explains why it’s safe to throw out the old notion condemning chewing gum while wearing orthodontic appliances.
Researchers in the UK recently conducted a study to determine just how the use of gum affects teenagers in braces. Participants who chewed gum reported a reduction in pain and impact their braces played in food choices, social situations and general function over patients who did not chew gum. These results were noted 24 hours after an appointment requiring a typically uncomfortable adjustment to an orthodontic appliance.
Gum’s surprising benefits stem from the increase in blood flow when chewing. A soothing action is created when circulation heightens around the periodontal membrane, helping to reduce inflammation and lessen pain. Perhaps even more shocking, gum doesn’t seem to uproot and wreak havoc on braces as once thought.
“If a patient exercises caution when chewing gum, I think it’s perfectly acceptable,” says Dr. Hussain. “It’s an easy, safe and inexpensive way to help soothe discomfort after an appointment.”
As with any sticky or tough food, it’s important to chew slowly and carefully. All foods have the ability to damage brackets and wires if consumed too quickly. Instead of smacking gum, opt for a more subtle motion around the molars. Dr. Hussain also recommends patients select sugar-free gum, since excessive sugar intake can contribute to cavities. Sugar-free varieties can easily be found in flavors like raspberry cupcake, mint chocolate chip and rainbow sherbet.
When done right, the occasional treat of chewing gum in self-ligating clear braces or lingual braces is fine for orthodontic patients. To learn more about what you can and can’t eat with braces, check out our post on eating with braces today!