Chewing gum is a common habit. But did you know it’s a controversial one — and the debate extends far beyond whether mint or cinnamon is the best flavor?
Some people say chewing gum is bad for your teeth, while others claim it has benefits that can actually promote better oral health. It can be confusing, and our team at Le Dentistry & Associates wants to set the record straight.
We offer comprehensive dental care in Norcross, Georgia. And when our patients ask us if chewing gum is good or bad, here’s what we have to say.
The downsides of chewing gum
The two main concerns about chewing gum are the ingredients in gum and the repetitive jaw movements that come with chewing it.
Some gums contain sugar, which can contribute to tooth decay and cavities. When you chew sugary gum, the sugar combines with bacteria in your mouth to produce acid. This acid can erode tooth enamel, weaken your teeth, and increase your risk of dental issues.
Even gums that don’t have sugar can pose a threat. Certain artificial sweeteners can alter the composition of bacteria in your mouth, even if they don’t contribute to cavity formation.
Secondly, some argue that chewing gum causes unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth and your jaw. In fact, the repetitive movements that you make when chewing gum can contribute to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, particularly if you have other risk factors for these painful disorders.
The benefits of chewing gum
On the other hand, many dentists promote certain benefits of chewing gum. One big potential advantage is that chewing gum helps stimulate saliva production.
Saliva plays a key role in your overall oral health. It neutralizes acids, remineralizes enamel, and washes away food particles. Since chewing gum increases saliva, it can help prevent dry mouth and the health risks that come with it.
Another potential benefit is that some gums are specially formulated with added ingredients like xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that may actually improve your oral health by inhibiting bacteria growth that causes tooth decay and promoting enamel remineralization. (Side note: Xylitol is toxic for many pets, so keep gum that contains xylitol out of their reach.)
The bottom line: choose the right gum
In the debate over whether chewing gum is bad or good for your teeth, the answer lies in making informed choices. Read ingredient lists and opt for sugar-free, low-acid gums that use xylitol. These options offer benefits of increased saliva production without the potentially harmful effects of sugar.
As with many things, moderation is key. If you like gum and you want to keep chewing it, our team is here to help you make healthy choices. Schedule an appointment at Le Dentistry & Associates online or call our office at 678-535-2759 to get started.