Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad for Your Teeth?
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The answer to that question is not definite. According to clinical studies, gum can be either harmful or helpful to your teeth, depending on what type it is. For instance, chewing gum that contains sugar can increase an individual’s chance of developing cavities, while sugar-free gum may actually do just the opposite.
There is yet another type of sugar-free chewing gum that contains a sweetener called Xylitol that actively works to reduce bacteria-causing decay inside the mouth. Can you believe it’s possible to improve your oral health just by chomping on a delicious stick of gum?
How Sugar-Free Gums Can Help Your Teeth
We’ve already established that sugar-containing gum is bad for your nibblers, so now lets get the scoop on how chewing sugar-free gums can be beneficial to your teeth.
Sugar-free gums can:
- Chewing sugar-free gum after eating helps rinse away and neutralize the harmful acids given off by bacteria in plaque. This aids in protecting the enamel on your teeth.
- A combination of the act of chewing and the flavor of the artificial sweeteners in the gum activates saliva flow by about 10 times the normal amount. This extra saliva is what conquers the acids found in bacteria and washes away other particles, thereby keeping your teeth clean and protected.
What is so Special About Xylitol?
Sugar-free gums containing this mighty artificial sweetener have several added benefits.
- These gums suppress the growth of cavity-causing oral bacteria called, “Streptococcus”. The sweetener prevents bacteria from sticking to the tooth, consequently shutting down the cavity-causing process.
- Long-term use of Xylitol can cause significant (good) changes in the type of bacteria in the mouth, along with decreasing the survival rate of decay-causing bacteria on the tooth.
Will You or Won’t You?
The fact that sugar-free gum can actually be good for your teeth should be a reason to celebrate for people that enjoy smacking on the juicy pieces of fun. Even if blowing bubbles is not your thing, the benefits that can be reaped from the tiny wonders might be reason enough to make it an occasional habit.
However, don’t mistake this advice for thinking that chewing gum could ever take the place of proper oral care. Daily brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups with a dentist is the only way to ensure your teeth stay in tip-top shape.
Also note that while chewing sugar-free gum can be good for most people, those who suffer from any type of jaw pain or temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms such as with TMD and TMJ are advised against chewing gum, as this could irritate those symptoms. For other alternatives, please speak with your dentist to find out what other options may be available to you.