There is a lot of conflicting information concerning gum and whether chewing it is good or bad for your teeth. Some say gum can help clean the teeth, while others argue that it can cause cavities. So which claim is true?
When it comes to gum, it is the type of gum you chew that determines whether it is helpful or harmful to your oral health. Store shelves are lined with numerous gum choices, many of which are sweetened with sugar. Particularly, bubble gum is often laden with sugars, which feed bacteria present around the teeth and gums. These bacteria produce acids that erode tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay. Not only do the sugars come in contact with the teeth, but chewing for long periods of time can subject the teeth to even more damage than other sweet treats, such as candy.
Benefits of Sugar-Free Gum
As an alternative, many gums are sugar-free and instead sweetened with alternatives, such as xylitol. Research has shown that chewing sugar-free gum not only reduces the risk of tooth decay compared to traditional gum, but it can even improve oral health. The act of chewing gum itself stimulates the production of saliva, which neutralizes acids produced by harmful bacteria. Saliva also helps wash away food debris after a meal.
Sugar-free gums sweetened with xylitol may have another advantage. When bacteria encounter xylitol, they have a more difficult time adhering to the surface of the teeth. Over time, this can reduce the amount of decay-causing bacteria present in the mouth and even slow or prevent the development of cavities.
Here at Lane Avenue Family Dental, we recommend our patients swap out bubble gum for sugar-free gum whenever possible. Though not a substitution for good oral hygiene, doing so can even prove beneficial after meals when brushing and flossing are not possible. According to the American Dental Association, just 20 minutes of chewing sugar-free gum meals is enough to prevent tooth decay – not to mention it can help freshen breath.
Of course, there are some patients for whom chewing gum may not be recommended, such as those with jaw disorders like TMJ. For more information about chewing gum and which gums are safe for use, schedule a consultation with our office. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about gum and which types of gum could lead to better overall oral health.