My Addiction to Chewing Gum

My mother is a dentist. I had terrible teeth as a child and, as a result, had braces for over five years. I’ve dealt with this irony for the majority of my life.

I didn’t mind braces that much. Sure, they weren’t the most attractive things in the world, but I muscled through those five plus years knowing that I would have straight teeth when they would be taken off. That being said, my mother was extremely strict on the food that I could and could not eat with my braces. Most kids, when their braces are first put on, receive a list of off-limits foods. We stuck our list to the refrigerator, though my mother basically had it memorized. No sticky candy like Laffy Taffy or Sour Patch Kids. No popcorn. No hard fruits like apples. And no chewing gum.

A lot of kids my age with braces regularly broke the rules. But I am inherently not much of a rule-breaker anyway, and my mother had haunted by dreams with enough stories of gooey candy getting stuck in wires and brackets to establish a large distance between me and any off-limits food. But that doesn’t mean I never dreamed about chewing even one stick of the gummy stuff.

I was never much of a gum chewer before my braces were put on. I was pretty young when I got my first set of braces, and I had really only ever chewed gum on airplanes to stop my ears from popping. But for those five years of metal in my mouth, I had fixed my mind on that off-limits gum. It was the forbidden fruit of sorts. I had missed my opportunity to partake in it, and I had to wait five long years before I could truly discover what chewing gum was like.

On that fateful day when I finally got my braces off for good, my orthodontist’s office bestowed upon me an entire bucket of once-forbidden foods. I passed on the gummy bears and the popcorn. I knew what that stuff tasted like, and I had eaten it years before I got my braces put on. I immediately dove into the gum. That’s where my addiction began.

It’s been seven years since I got my braces off, and I chew gum every single day. I go through packs at a time. I always chew two pieces at once, so that makes me go through those packs even more quickly. I probably leave tiny trails of gum wrappers wherever I go. I always keep packs of gum in my backpack, my purse, and my car. I have to chew gum after every meal, even breakfast.

I’m very particular about the type of gum I chew. My mother, always apt to give me warnings about cavities, prohibits gum with added sugar. So I only chew Trident, a sugar-free brand. I am partial to the simple pink bubblegum flavor, but I’ll also chew fruity kinds if I’m desperate. I never go near mint flavors, and I know that alienates me from a wide circle of fellow gum enthusiasts.

I’ve had to tone it down a little, and I don’t chew as much as I did when I was at my peak. I get headaches sometimes when I chew too much, and I can’t even imagine the wear and added pressure that I put on my jaw. It’s definitely not the healthiest habit in the world, but over the years I have found that it keeps my mouth clean and reduces food cravings. And of course, I’m always the most popular person in the room when I break out a pack.



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