Chewing gum has come a long way since it was first introduced. Most chewing gums now are made without sugar, the ingredient that caused dentists to caution their patients against participating in this popular practice! Although many people chew gum to help freshen their breath after a meal, this practice can have some surprising benefits such as increasing saliva flow and decreasing cavities. So is chewing gum bad for you, or does it actually help your teeth?
The Type of Gum Matters
The type of gum is the most important factor in whether or not chewing gum is bad for your teeth. This is because chewing gum that contains sugar is actually bad for your teeth—the consequences outweigh the benefits. Your teeth are being exposed to acidic sugars over a period of time, therefore increasing your risk for cavities.
However, sugarless gum can actually be beneficial for your smile. It stimulates saliva production, therefore promoting a healthy environment for good bacteria, and therefore can help decrease plaque and acid-forming bacteria. The increased saliva flow can also help to free trapped food particles from your teeth!
May Help Reduce Cavities
Not all sugarless gum is created equal. Sugarless gums created with xylitol are better for your teeth than gums created with other artificial sweeteners, which tend to be more acidic. Xylitol is alkaline-forming, which means it can help promote a healthier bacteria balance in the mouth and minimize your chances of enamel erosion and cavities.
Sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol should be your top pick because it may help reduce cavities. Xylitol can also hinder the growth of the bacteria involved in cavity formation. Regular chewing of sugarless gum with xylitol may help promote a healthier bacteria balance of over time because it can inhibit harmful bacteria from bonding to tooth surfaces!
When Chewing Gum Is Bad for You
Chewing gum isn’t the best practice for everyone, regardless of whether or not it’s sugar-free! There are times when chewing gum actually is bad for you. These occasions include:
If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ. Temporomandibular Joint disorder, or TMJ disorder, affects your jaw and the muscles that operate your jaw. People who experience jaw locking, tenderness, or facial pain should avoid chewing gum and visit their dentist.
If you chew gum with sugar. Chewing gum with sugar is not recommended. It’s better to sip water or crunch on vegetables than to chew gum with conventional sugars!
If you use it to replace brushing and flossing. We’ve all been running late and popped some gum into our mouths instead of brushing our teeth—but if you do this on a daily basis, you’re robbing your mouth of the best oral hygiene practices that can save your smile! Chewing gum—even sugarless gum—should never replace your regular brushing and flossing routine.
Chewing gum can be very beneficial for your smile if you choose a quality sugar-free gum that’s sweetened with xylitol. This can help prevent cavities, encourage healthy bacteria, and result in a healthier mouth. Avoid chewing gum if you have TMJ disorder or favor gum with sugar, and as always, visit your dentist to ensure your teeth are healthy!