DO YOU LOVE CHEWING GUM? Do you like to chew gum because it helps keep your breath fresh? Do you chew gum to relieve stress? Is it just a long-standing habit? If you’re like many of us here at Dental Partners of Boston, gum is a “necessity” that some of us have a hard time going without! Our doctors say, “In fact, ever since Thomas Adams invented chewing gum back in 1870, it’s been one of the most common breath stabilizers around.”
So… How is all this gum chewing affecting our teeth?
Good news! Chewing gum can actually help fight cavities! In fact, Our doctors actually recommend it! The act of chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which is a natural buffering and cleaning agent that kills cavity-producing acids. In addition, a recent study shows that for those who do not naturally produce a sufficient amount of salivary flow on their own, chewing a piece of gum for 10 minutes each waking hour for about two weeks can help remedy the problem.
Gum is also a great agent in fighting plaque.
Plaque is one of the main cavities and periodontal disease contributors. The University of the Pacific School of Dentistry conducted an 8-week study where volunteers chewed BreathAssure Dental gum for 20 minutes a day while a control group chewed a placebo gum for the same amount of time. All test subjects practiced proper brushing and flossing techniques. The results of the study showed that BreathAssure reduced the accumulation of dental plaque by 35%.
Some types of gum can also contain beneficial artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol, which has been found to inhibit bacterial growth and perhaps even reverse small lesions. However, in order to truly benefit from the Xylitol in gum, you need to chew two pieces 3–5 times daily for at least five minutes at a time.
So what’s the catch?
Yes, you guessed it… There’s always a catch, right? Here it is. Brands of gum containing sugar can be harmful to your teeth if they’re chewed too often or taken out of your mouth too soon. If you prefer gum containing natural sugar rather than artificial sweeteners, chew it for at least 15–20 minutes so that your saliva can rinse away the sugar residue once you’ve chewed out all the sugar.
Of course, whether or not you decide to chew gum is your decision—however, if you DO chew it, our dentists strongly recommend choosing a sugarless gum.
If you’re susceptible to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, or other face/jaw pain, the disadvantages of chewing gum may outweigh the benefits.