Humans have been chewing versions of gum for centuries. While most were made from some form of tree sap, today’s gum is made up of several synthetic materials. A lot of people think of gum as candy, and therefore, not great for your dental health. But chewing gum can actually help your teeth – as long as it’s sugar-free.
Effects of Gum
While chewing gum that contains sugar can cause cavities, chewing sugar-free gum can be helpful in dislodging food debris, increasing your salivary flow, and curbing bad breath. Studies have shown it can also help patients with dry mouth because of the increase in saliva.
In addition, chewing gum exercises our jaw muscles and makes them stronger. On the other hand, excessive or aggressive gum chewing can result in muscle fatigue and soreness like any other muscle in your body. This kind of chewing can result in spasms in the jaw, neck and head so it is important to limit the amount you chew gum.
Can Chewing Gum to Prevent Cavities?
Yes. The act of chewing can increase your salivary flow by 10-12 times. Increasing your saliva by chewing sugar-free gum can help to neutralize acid produced by mouth bacteria and wash away food and other debris. Gum containing sugar can also increase saliva flow, but the sugar can promote growth of plaque bacteria, doing more harm than good.
Tips for Selecting Chewing Gum
When choosing a gum, look for the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. Gums with the ADA seal are sugar-free and sweetened by non-cavity producing sweeteners, such as, xylitol, aspartame, mannitol, stevia and more. Those sweetened with xylitol are an extra good choice as studies have found that xylitol can decrease the amount of cavity causing bacteria in your mouth.
The ADA has given its Seal of Acceptance to the following sugar-free gum:
- Bazooka Sugar Free Bubble Gum (Original)
- Eclipse Sugarfree Gum
- ICE BREAKERS ICE CUBES Sugar Free Chewing Gum
- Orbit Sugarfree Gum
- Trident Sugarfree Gum
While chewing sugar-free gum doesn’t replace brushing, flossing or professional cleanings, it’s not a bad addition to your dental hygiene routine. As long as it’s sugar-free, feel free to chew away.