Most people know what chewing gum is. In fact, many of us probably carry round a packet in our bag. Great for quickly freshening breath and getting rid of bad tastes, chewing gum is one of the most popular confectionery choices. However, how harmful is chewing gum for your teeth? Does it have any negative effects? And if so, what are they?
Here at Hove Dental, we know a thing or two about teeth and we did our research into gum and how it effects oral health. Our findings were very interesting.
Against popular belief, no, chewing gum is not bad for your teeth. In fact, many leading dental care industries have claimed that it can help prevent tooth decay. However, there is a catch, the gum has to be sugar-free.
Why is Sugar-Free Gum Better for Your Teeth?
We all know sugar is bad for our teeth, so it goes without saying that gum full of sugar is not beneficial for your teeth. It must also be noted that chewing gum should not act as a replacement for brushing or flossing your teeth. However, sugarless gum (especially types that contact xylitol) is great for clearing your teeth of food straight after you’ve eaten and can help freshen your breath for a time before you thoroughly clean your teeth.
The Benefits of Xylitol in Chewing Gum
Sugar-free gum that contains xylitol is thought to help reduce the growth of a bacteria called Streptococcus. These bacteria are known to cause cavities, so it’s important it is reduced as often as possible. What’s more, studies have shown that xylitol helps to stop bacteria from sticking to your teeth. This can help fight off cavity-causing bacteria, keeping your teeth healthier for longer.
The Chewing Gums that are Bad for Your Teeth
So, we’ve already mentioned that chewing gum with sugar in is bad for your teeth, but did you know that bubble-gums are the worst type? The type of gum can have a significant effect. Bubble-gum has the highest sugar content and is the worst type for contributing to plaque build-up and the spread of bacteria in the mouth.
Is Chewing Gum Bad for Your Teeth? The Benefits
Despite the negative press it often receives, sugar-free chewing gum versions do have many benefits for your teeth, including:
Increased Saliva Production: chewing gum is a great way to help your mouth to produce more saliva. While this may not seem initially appealing, the saliva flow you produce helps rinse your mouth out of bad bacteria. So, it’s hugely beneficial in maintaining good oral care.
Improved Oral Hygiene: sugar-free chewing gum is ideal for improving your oral hygiene. Sugar-free chewing gum will help keep your breath fresh and your mouth free from bacteria through encouraging saliva production. However, it’s important you know that chewing gums high in sugar have the opposite effect, as bacteria thrives on the presence of sugar.
Hardens Your Enamel: there is a substance in chewing gum called casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP). This substance is thought to help harden and strengthen your tooth enamel. Having hardened tooth enamel helps prevent against the threat of tooth decay.
The Disadvantages of Chewing Gum on Oral Health
Despite the many advantages of chewing sugar-free gum, there are of course a couple of disadvantages. However, you should be aware that these disadvantages only really apply if you use gum regularly. Once in a while won’t make very much difference to your oral health. Promote your oral health and avoid sugar-filled gum.
Tooth Decay: as we’ve already mentioned, chewing gums that are full of sugar (such as bubble gum) can cause tooth decay. When you chew sugary gums, the sugar is released inside your mouth and clings to your teeth, slowly eating away at your enamel. If you do eat sugar gums, it is important to brush your teeth immediately afterwards, just as you would with sugary foods and drinks.
Jaw Ache: people who chew gum regularly experience jaw ache. In extreme cases, headaches and sometimes even toothaches can result from chewing too much gum too often. And in the most extreme cases, it is possible to experience Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TPD). This is a condition that causes significant discomfort around the face and jaw.
Stomach Problems: for people with sensitive stomachs, chewing gum isn’t generally advised. Chewing gum for long amounts of time can cause your stomach and intestines to experience stress. It is advised not to use gum straight after a meal so that you give your food a chance to properly digest.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Practices
Whether you use gum or not, it is important you maintain good oral hygiene practices to help protect your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and use mouthwash to help prevent the build-up of plaque. If you do these things regularly, it shouldn’t matter too much if you enjoy a stick of gum every now and then.