When you think of chewing gum, you probably think of blowing bubbles or something annoying stuck to the bottom of your shoe. But did you know that chewing gum can actually be good for your health? There are surprising benefits to chewing gum, including benefits to your dental health, mental health, and stomach health. Chewing sugar-free gum can have significant benefits for your teeth, and can actually help prevent tooth decay. Chewing gum, however, is not a substitute for a good regular daily oral care routine. Read on to learn more about the surprising benefits of chewing gum.
Chewing gum can have significant benefits for dental health, but not all chewing gum creates beneficial effects. The type of gum you chew makes a significant difference, and chewing gum with a high sugar content can actually increase your chances of developing a cavity. There is clinical evidence, however, that demonstrates just the opposite for sugar-free gum.
Sugarless gum can actually help protect teeth and increase overall oral health. Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks leads to additional saliva production, which can help rinse off the surface of your teeth, washing away food particles and helping to keep your teeth clean. Further, chewing sugar-free gum significantly increases saliva production, which helps neutralize and rinse away some of the acid that is forming in your mouth as food breaks down.
Increased saliva production has several benefits for your mouth. Saliva neutralizes the acids released by the bacteria in plaque, which are harmful to tooth enamel. Further, because Saliva contains calcium, the minerals generated by the extra saliva also help strengthen your tooth’s enamel. The enamel strengthening power generated by this extra saliva can actually reduce your risk of dental cavities forming. This means that chewing sugar-free gum, with its acid neutralization benefits, can be particularly helpful at the very onset of a new cavity. When there is a microscopic cavity forming, before the cavity has become a physical hole in the tooth, gum chewing can help raise pH and reduce acidity to get needed calcium back into the tooth. Again, it’s critical to choose a sugarless gum, not a sugary bubble gum, to experience these beneficial effects.
Even better, chewing sugar-free gum that is sweetened with xylitol can magnify the positive impacts. Both the act of chewing and the flavor of the artificial sweeteners in xylitol-sweetened gum stimulate the normal rate of saliva flow by up to ten times. Further, sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol actually inhibits bacterial growth in your mouth, including 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.
The saliva-producing power of chewing gum also helps combat conditions such as dry mouth and bad breath. But chewing gum offers even more benefits besides these positive effects to oral health. Chewing gum has also been shown to offer several surprising benefits to mental health and stomach health. Studies have shown that chewing gum can help keep you alert, focused and attentive, and even ease anxiety. Some studies have even shown indications that chewing gum can help stave off cognitive decline. Recent research has also found a connection between chewing gum and metabolic rates, with one study which measured how many calories participants burned while chewing gum finding that it could raise metabolic rate by up to 15 percent. Chewing gum can also help with nausea and heartburn (thanks again to the increased saliva production!), and can stimulate bowel function.
Regardless of which of these issues chewing sugar-free gum might help you solve, chewing gum can be a simple and practical solution for many. Still, sugar-free or not, chewing gum should never replace good dental hygiene practices. Affinity Dental encourages you to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily because while chewing sugar-free gum can have a positive effect, a good daily oral care routine is the most important way to take care of your oral health!
At Affinity Dental of La Mesa, 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. If you have any questions, just ask us – we are here to help with this and other questions you may have. At Affinity 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!