There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about whether or not gum is good for your teeth, but we want to set the record straight—especially since the answer isn’t quite as simple as you might think.
One of the biggest culprits behind many oral health issues is sugar. These days, many foods and beverages contain large amounts of added sugar that bad oral bacteria feed upon. Well-fed bacteria accumulate into a sticky film of plaque, which irritates and inflames gums. But plaque not only increases your risk of gum disease, it produces acids and toxins that damage tooth enamel and cause decay. Chewing gum that contains sugar is bad for your teeth, as its sticky sugar feeds this plaque bacteria. We recommend avoiding sugary gum for optimal oral health. Fortunately, not all gum contains sugar!
Although sugar is commonly found in gum, there are plenty of brands that make satisfying sugar-free gum. In fact, chewing sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after eating can help stimulate the production of salvia and rinse your mouth of leftover food particles and bacteria. Additionally, there is a type of sugar-free sweetener found in some gums, called xylitol, with properties that may help reduce the accumulation of bad oral bacteria.
Aside from helping to rinse your mouth, chewing sugar-free gum is a good way to curb your appetite between meals and freshen your breath. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t chew too much gum if you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) or any other kind of jaw pain. Let us know if you experience any pain while chewing–we can help find an appropriate treatment!
Chewing sugar-free gum is not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, and it’s certainly not a substitute for twice-yearly dental checkups. But if you’re a fan of chewing gum, know that it’s totally safe, and even beneficial, for your teeth if it’s sugar-free.
If you have any questions about how to achieve and maintain a healthy smile, or if you’re due for a cleaning and exam, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team at Heritage Dental. We look forward to seeing you soon.