Most people know that candy can pose a threat to their oral health, especially if it is consumed in excessive amounts. However chewing gum is one type of candy that claims to be good for your teeth. Additionally, some would argue that chewing gum can also offer various other health benefits, such as improved digestion. This raises the question: can chewing gum improve your oral health?
As with most things, there is not a simple yes or no answer. Therefore, to answer this question, we must evaluate both the pros and cons associated with chewing gum. This will help to determine whether chewing gum is beneficial or detrimental to your oral health.
Sugar-Free Gum Protects Teeth
If you are going to chew gum, sugar-free gum is generally a better choice for your oral health. Additionally, sugar-free gum that contains xylitol can help prevent the spread of bacteria responsible for bad breath and tooth decay. This ultimately means that chewing sugarless gum with xylitol can help protect your teeth.
One benefit of chewing gum is that it increase the flow of saliva. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense system and it helps to clean the mouth of bacteria and regulate pH levels. For people who suffer from dry mouth, gum is a good way to help the body produce more saliva and prevent dental erosion. Additionally, saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which help to strengthen the tooth enamel.
Reduce Tooth Sensitivity
Chewing sugar-free gum has been associated with reduced tooth sensitivity, especially in people who have recently undergone in-office whitening treatments. It is believed that the reduction in sensitivity can be attributed to the excess saliva flow caused by the gum.
Many chewing gums with sugar use sucrose, which is a primary food source for the bacteria in your mouth. This means that when you chew gum containing sucrose, you are feeding the bacteria and encouraging their population to grow. Unfortunately, this can increase the risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
Gum that contains citric acid, or other types of acids used for flavoring can cause the mouth pH to drop. Simply stated, this means that the mouth temporarily becomes more acidic, which can lead to dental erosion and increase the risk of tooth decay.
In some cases, excessive gum chewing has been associated with temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Additionally, chewing gum for long periods of time can place additional strain on your jaw and cause it to become sore. In some cases, this can also cause headaches and facial pain.
As you can see, there are both pros and cons to chewing gum. In most cases, chewing sugar-free gum for at least 30 minutes is considered to be beneficial for your oral health. However, chewing gum that contains sugar excessively, can not only increase your risk of tooth decay, but it can also lead to jaw problems. If you are still unsure, be sure to speak with your dentist to determine if chewing gum is beneficial for your smile.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.