Is it true that chewing gum can be good for your teeth? The answer is yes! Chewing gum can actually help prevent tooth decay, as it causes your mouth to produce more saliva, which helps neutralize and rinse away some of the acid that forms in your mouth when you break down food. But it’s important to choose a sugarless gum, not a sugary bubble gum, which can have the opposite effect and contribute to the buildup of plaque on teeth. Chewing gum after a meal, however, is not a substitute for your regular daily oral care routine, and Affinity Dental encourages you to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Chewing sugar-free gum can have a positive effect, but a good daily oral care routine is the most important way to take care of your oral health!
It may surprise you – but chewing a sugarless gum can actually help you to protect your teeth and increase overall oral health. Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks causes your mouth to produce additional saliva, which can help rinse off the surface of your teeth. Increased saliva production helps neutralize and rinse away some of the acid that is forming in your mouth as food breaks down. The saliva neutralizes the acids released by the bacteria in plaque, which are harmful to tooth enamel. As an additional benefit, the minerals generated by the extra saliva also help strengthen your tooth’s enamel. The enamel strengthening power generated by this extra saliva reduces your risk of dental cavities forming.
Not all chewing gum creates these beneficial effects, however. When it comes to chewing gum, the type of gum you chew makes a significant difference. While sugarless gum can have a significant positive impact, gum containing sugar may actually be harmful to your teeth. Chewing gum with a high sugar content can increase your chances of developing a cavity. There is clinical evidence, however, that demonstrates just the opposite for sugar-free gum. Even better, chewing sugar-free gum that is sweetened with xylitol can actually help to clean teeth! Both the act of chewing and the flavor of the artificial sweeteners in the gum stimulate ten times the normal rate of saliva flow. Not only does the increased saliva flow neutralize the acids in your mouth, it also washes away food particles, helping to keep your teeth clean.
Further, sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol actually inhibits bacterial growth in your mouth. Sugar-free gum containing xylitol has been shown to inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, one of the oral bacteria that cause cavities. When xylitol is present in the mouth, oral bacteria lose the ability to adhere to the tooth, stunting the process which causes cavities. By using xylitol over an extended period of time, the types of bacteria in the mouth actually change, and fewer decay-causing bacteria will survive on the surfaces of your teeth.
In most cases, chewing sugar-free gum is a simple way to increase beneficial saliva production and keep the mouth healthy. While chewing sugar-free gum has a positive effect in most cases, there are some instances in which chewing gum is not recommended for use. If you are experiencing any type of jaw pain or have symptoms of temporomandibular disorder (TMD/TMJ), you should avoid using chewing gum. If you have any questions, talk to your dentist about what options are available to you. At Woodside Dental, we are here to help with this and other questions you may have.
Sugar-free or not, chewing gum should never replace good dental hygiene practices. Gum-chewing is not a substitute for a daily regular oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily proper flossing with quality dental care products. At Affinity Dental of La Mesa, California, we encourage all of our patients to maintain good oral care routines, and if you are going to use chewing gum, choose a sugar-free variety. If you are uncertain about which gum is best for promoting oral health, look for ones recommended by the American Dental Association with the ADA seal of approval on their packaging. Chewing sugar-free gum may be another way to care for your teeth, but we encourage you to come see us for routine dental cleanings and check-ups. At Woodside Dental, we are here to be your partners in your oral health. Give us a call at (619) 697-2800, or contact us here, today!