After a meal or a long day at work, chewing gum is the perfect way to freshen breath and clean your mouth. With misinformation about chewing gum prevalent on the Internet, it’s tough to know if chewing gum is helpful or harmful to teeth. Sure, it’s nice to have the cool, minty taste in your mouth, but is it doing more harm than good?
Some chewing gum contains sugar or artificial sweeteners that may be damaging to the teeth. What is not a well-known fact, is that all chewing gum stimulates the flow of saliva to the mouth. Saliva works to clean teeth, although the sugar in the gum may also act as a coating for the mouth.
Chewing a piece of gum after eating can rinse away acid and bacteria that may stick to teeth.
While it may be easy to pop a piece of gum in your mouth after a meal, gum should never be allowed to take the place of regular flossing and brushing. We recommend brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste and clean plaque from between the teeth with floss.
Saliva in the mouth is increased during the physical act of chewing. Chewing a piece of gum after eating can rinse away the acids and bacteria that may stick to your teeth after a meal. The food you eat is broken down by plaque and turns into acid. If left in your mouth for long periods of time, those acids will eat away at tooth enamel and create a prime environment for tooth decay.
When saliva production is increased in the mouth, it carries extra phosphates and calcium that aid in the strengthening of tooth enamel. Statistics show that tooth decay can be prevented by chewing sugarless gum after a meal.
Many people chew on a stick of gum to reduce food cravings and, theoretically, help them avoid eating unhealthy foods. However, while research shows that chewing gum reduces your motivation to eat, your hunger and how much you end up eating, gum chewers’ meals end up being less nutritious than those eaten by non-gum-chewers.3 For instance, people who chewed gum were less likely to eat fruit and instead were more motivated to eat junk food like potato chips and candy. This is likely because the minty flavor in the gum makes fruits and vegetables taste bitter.
If your chewing gum contains sugar, you’re essentially “bathing” your teeth in sugar while you chew away. This can contribute to tooth decay. Even if you chew sugar-free gum, there are still risks to your teeth because sugar-free gum often contains acidic flavorings and preservatives that may in fact lead to dental erosion,4 even if it contains cavity-fighting xylitol. Unlike cavities, dental erosion is a process of incremental decalcification, which, over time, literally dissolves your teeth.
Research shows your stress tends to spike when you’re feeling peckish. (It’s one of the reasons some people get “hangry” between meals, experts say.) Chewing gum may temporarily turn off some of your brain’s stress-elevating “I need food” alarms, and so it may help lower worry and improve calm. Gum may provide a quick pick-me-up if you’re feeling frazzled, unfocused or famished. And while chewing the mint varieties before meals or snacks may lead you to select less-healthy foods, a stick of sugar-free gum after a meal could protect your teeth from cavities. Chewing gum helps to improve intestinal motility, also helps to increase saliva flow which promotes more frequent swallowing. This helps to prevent reflux of acid from the stomach back into the throat. Chewing gum helps to improve intestinal motility, also helps to increase saliva flow which promotes more frequent swallowing. This helps to prevent reflux of acid from the stomach back into the throat.
Try to choose a sugarless gum with the CDA seal. These products have been recognized by the Canadian Dental Association. Look for a chewing gum that remineralizes teeth, reduces decay, stimulates saliva flow or reduces gingivitis.
In order to receive the approval of the CDA, there must be evidence that the statement of claim made by the manufacturer can be scientifically supported.
There are some habits you can get into that will help your teeth stay healthy. Chew sugarless gum after every meal, brush and floss twice a day and schedule a regular checkup with a dentist here at Oakville Place Dental Office. Enjoy our friendly environment as we work to improve your oral health!