Each year, more than 100,000 tons of chewing gum is consumed. But did you know chewing gum has been around in one form or another for thousands of years? Evidence from 9,000 years ago shows civilizations enjoyed chewing substances such as birch bark tar and later resin, chicle, or spruce tree gum to quench thirst or hunger or to cure headaches. These substances were also widely used to clean teeth. But does chewing gum really clean your teeth? Or is chewing gum bad for your teeth? Penn Family Dental Practice separates fact from fiction about our favorite bubble blaster.
The answers to questions like, “Is chewing gum good for your teeth?” or “Does gum give you cavities?” aren’t black-and-white, yes or no, answers. In fact, there are several answers to these questions depending on the type of gum you chew.
First, let’s talk about the actual action of chewing gum. The general action of chewing gum increases saliva flow. Saliva plays an essential role in oral and overall health. It also:
It also helps break down food for easier digestion. So, yes, chewing gum can be good for both your teeth and your overall health.
However, if chewing gum contains sugar such as sucrose, the sugar is metabolized by oral bacteria and causes demineralization of tooth enamel. It sticks to the teeth and causes plaque buildup that can lead to cavities, gingivitis, or more serious gum diseases. In essence, all the good saliva does is overshadowed by the damage sugar causes.
No. Because sugar-free gum is sweetened with natural and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, stevia, or xylitol, it doesn’t stick to your teeth or cause cavities. When you chew it, you get all the benefits of saliva without remineralizing tooth enamel and plaque buildup. So, chewing sugar-free gum can be good for your teeth and oral health.
Chewing gum can play a part in good oral hygiene, but it can’t replace brushing or flossing because it can’t get to areas between the teeth and remove bacteria, food particles, or plaque.
However, use it between meals when you don’t have access to a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen your breath, remove some food particles, and aid digestion. Also, it’s suggested that chewing gum for 20 minutes after finishing eating reduces the opportunity for plaque and tartar buildup.
Nicotine gum isn’t used in the same way as regular gum. People use it when they are trying to quit smoking to get the nicotine and the oral stimulation smokers usually get when smoking cigarettes. It’s not intended for refreshment. Instead, it comes in different strengths and is used according to a schedule to help reduce cravings. Also, when nicotine gum is chewed, it is only actively chewed for a few minutes and then put between your teeth and cheek so that nicotine can be absorbed. However, nicotine gum is sugar-free and creates saliva, so you will get some oral health benefits from chewing it.
Yes. Chewing gum has been found to:
Of course, chewing sugar-free gum can have the most positive impact on your teeth and gums. And make regular dental checkups at Penn Dental Family Practice part of your routine, too.
Conveniently located in Philadelphia, Penn Dental Family Practice brings you the latest dental treatments and services, including general and cosmetic dentistry, orthodontia, periodontics, endodontics, teeth whitening, prosthodontics, and more. Everything you need is right there, all in one place, so you always have access to the services you need. If you or a loved one are ready for a cleaning and examination, please don’t hesitate to fill out this form so we can schedule your appointment.
In addition, as a special new patient welcome gift, we have a free Oral-B Electric Toothbrush for you! To get your gift, just fill out this form and follow the directions to print and present your coupon.
We look forward to seeing you soon. And remember, switch to sugar-free gum for your best oral health—and bubble-blowing.