It’s a common habit for a lot of us: When you want to freshen your breath, pop a stick of chewing gum in your mouth. The minty freshness feels good, but is gum good for your teeth or can it cause problems? Read on to learn the pros and cons of chewing gum.
Where Did the Idea Come From?
You may have wondered, where did the idea of chewing gum come from? Chewing gum has actually been around since ancient times when people made it from natural tree saps. Modern chewing gum is typically made of synthetic materials, but the concept is still the same, and it’s still popular. But popular doesn’t always mean healthy, so is gum good for your teeth?
Some gums contain natural sugar as part of their flavoring and sugar can put your teeth at an increased risk for cavities. This is because sugar feeds the bacteria that naturally occurs in your mouth, which produces an acid that can lead to erosion of your enamel or the outer layer of your teeth.
So when selecting chewing gum, make sure to check for the words “sugar-free” on the packaging. Sugar-free gums contain alternative sweeteners that are typically less harmful for your teeth.
Even better, if you can find a gum that contains xylitol as the sweetener. Xylitol is a special sweetener that has been shown to change the pH balance of your mouth over time and help to reduce the bacteria and acid in your mouth as well as its ability to adhere to your teeth.
It Helps with Dry Mouth, Too!
Chewing gum can also be good for your teeth for another reason. The action of chewing can stimulate saliva flow in your mouth. This is a positive because saliva is your body’s natural defense system against cavities. Dry mouth is a big culprit in putting teeth at a higher risk of cavities, but increased saliva flow, especially if you chew gum after a meal, can help your saliva to do its job of neutralizing and washing away acids and residue from your teeth and gums.
Practicing Oral Hygiene with Chewing Gum
The answer to the question, “Is gum good for your teeth?” can be a complicated one, because it depends on which gum you choose. And of course, brushing and flossing your teeth is still vitally important to maintaining your dental health, but when you can’t brush your teeth right away after a meal, chewing gum with the right ingredients can help in the meantime.
If you’re wanting to find a gum that is good for your teeth, talk to your dentist about what you’re looking for in a chewing gum and ask if there are any types of gum they may recommend to you that can also benefit your dental health.
Call our Palm Desert Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.