Chewing gum, in some form, has been around for hundreds of years. But the question still remains: Is gum bad for your teeth? The American Dental Association recognizes that when gum is used in conjunction with brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing, it can reduce the risk of tooth decay.
Chewing gum helps your mouth produce more saliva, which can neutralize acids and cleanse your teeth. This makes chewing gum a great addition to your oral health care routine — as long as it is sugar-free. Chewing gum is also great for freshening your breath. Additionally, some studies show that chewing it can reduce stress.
When Should You Chew Gum?
Chewing sugar-free gum straight after eating for around 20 minutes will increase the flow of saliva, which will help to neutralize any acids from eating. The minerals created by the extra saliva flow will also help to strengthen the enamel of your teeth. This will help reduce the risk of developing decay.
When Should You Avoid Chewing Gum?
Overall, chewing gum is great for your teeth. However, there are some occasions when you should avoid it, which include:
Gum Containing Sugar
Gum that contains sugar and artificial sweeteners can actually feed the bacteria in your mouth. The sugar can coat your teeth and lead to plaque build-up and tooth decay.
If you have jaw issues (such as Temporomandibular Joint disorder), then chewing gum could worsen your symptoms. Chewing can put an excessive amount of strain on the jaw, leading to pain. Excessive chewing can also then lead to headaches, earache and neck pain.
Chewing gum for long periods could lead to stomach issues and can worsen irritable bowel syndrome. Chewing can cause your stomach to become stressed because it needs time after eating to recover. The act of chewing sends signals to your stomach that you are about to swallow, so your stomach activates the enzymes and acids used to break down food.
When the stomach acids and enzymes aren’t being used properly, this can lead to bloating and excessive acid build-up. Ultimately, the acid buildup can lead to acid reflux, which is harmful for your teeth as it can cause enamel erosion. Acid buildup can also make your body less able to digest food when you do eat.
Which Gum Should You Choose?
Sugar-free gum that contains Xylitol is the best. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that, according to this study, has been found to reduce bacteria in your mouth.
Here are three recommended gum brands that are sugar-free. They also contain Xylitol:
- Orbit: They have 10 different flavors of sugar-free gum.
- Pur: They offer eight different flavors.
- Peppersmith: They have peppermint and spearmint options available, and they are vegan-friendly.
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If you have any questions about your oral health, we are here to help. Book an appointment that suits your schedule today, and we can discuss the best dental care options for you.
American Dental Association (ADA) – Chewing Gum
Journal of Clinical and Translational Research – “Chewing gum and stress reduction”
Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine – “Xylitol in preventing dental caries: A systematic review and meta-analyses”