Chewing Gum: Does it Help or Hurt?

Young charming smiling dark-haired woman puts in mouth chewing gum, on green summer background.

For a long time, people thought gum was candy. After all, it doesn’t have nutritional value and is coated with sugar. Chewing gum is still considered to be candy by some today. Gum is also messy and sticky leaving spots on schoolgrounds and sticking to the bottom of your shoes.  How can that stickiness and sugar possibly have any health, let alone dental benefits?

Gum is Good for Your Dental Health, Well, Certain Kinds Are

Believe it or not, studies have shown that chewing gum relaxes, improves mood, reduces acid reflux and boosts brain power through increasing the heart rate and blood flow to the brain, according to a CNN article. The act of chewing also burns calories and can help curve hunger cravings. Gum not only has overall health benefits, but it also has many benefits to your dental health as well. Not any gum has these health and dental benefits. The American Dental Association only has its seal of approval on sugarless gum. Other studies have shown that the above health and dental benefits can only be provided by chewing sugarless gum. Most sugarless gum contains no calories and they have sugar substitutes that offer the same sweet taste but does not induce cavity formation like sugar does. The regular, sugar gum doesn’t offer the same health and dental benefits, making it a way like candy.

Dental Benefits of Gum

Chewing sugarless gum also has many dental benefits you may not have known about, with the most notable being its effectiveness in helping to prevent cavities. Yes, your favorite chewing sugarless gum can help prevent cavities. Other dental benefits of sugarless gum include tooth enamel strengthening and the strengthening of the teeth and jaws. Gum also helps protects teeth from food acids and the acid from acid reflux which can destroy tooth enamel. Sugarless gum contains aspartame, mannitol and sorbitol in place of sugar. These sugar substitutes, ironically, provide additional nourishment and strength to teeth enamel, making teeth more resistant to plaque build-up and cavities.

How does chewing gum achieve these benefits? The main answer is in the increased production of saliva. Whenever you chew something, your mouth will automatically produce saliva. Since gum is chewy, a prolonged influx of saliva production can clean the inside of the mouth. Your saliva is your body’s natural, built-in mouth cleaner. Saliva washes away food particles, plaque and other bacteria from on or between teeth. Your saliva also contains calcium and phosphates that strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel. The chewiness and softness of the gum won’t cause accidental chipping or fracturing of the teeth. Your teeth and jaw will become stronger with the chewing motion. The friction and grinding of teeth involved in chewing will build teeth up. Chewing also builds-up jaw muscles, joints and bone.

While sugarless chewing gum is great in preventing plaque build-up and cavities, it is still no substitute for teeth brushing and flossing.  Patients should also continue to see us at… twice a year for a professional teeth cleaning and teeth exam. Contact us today to set up an appointment so you can enjoy your gum in a healthy mouth for years to come.

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