The debate rages on; “Is chewing gum really that bad for teeth?” Some argue that it is while others argue that it isn’t. Each present a convincing story, and in their own right are correct in their assessment. Like anything else in life, if not appreciated in moderation, of course chewing gum is going to be bad. However, in most cases, chewing gum can actually promote healthy teeth preventing plaque buildup as it is chewed.
The first thing that should be addressed is the difference between regular chewing gum and the sugar free varieties. Most will argue that sugar-filled gum products taste better than their sugar free counterparts. True as this may be, they also pose a more serious threat to the decay of teeth than sugar free options. As sugar is broken down in the mouth, acids are released that can erode the tooth enamel. Over time this can lead to a variety of dental issues not the least of which is tooth decay.
However, studies have also shown that chewing sugar filled gum for a long enough time may actually counteract the potential damage done. The act of chewing gum produces saliva, an enzyme that breaks down food particles in the mouth. By continuing to chew that piece of sugary gum an individual will be producing more saliva to break down and wash away the sugary remnants. For those avid chewers out there, it’s clear that this is much easier said than done however. As good as sugary gum may taste at first, it quickly looses this appeal making it unpleasant to continue chewing.
So what about those sugar free gums? On the whole, these chewing options are safe and, as mentioned before, can actually be beneficial to the health of your teeth and gums. Some dentists believe that chewing a piece of sugar free chewing gum for 10-15 minutes after a meal is an excellent practice for maintaining a healthy mouth. The saliva produced from chewing this gum will wash away any remaining food pieces, and may even strengthen your teeth as well. Certain minerals present in saliva can actually reinforce teeth as it washes over them.
Lastly, no matter the flavor or sugar content, chewing too much gum can be a detriment to not only your teeth but your jaw and head as well. Constant chewing can cause muscle and bone complications in your mouth, and have even been lead to chronic headache in some instances. The morale of the story here is to chew gum in moderation and it can in fact be beneficial to your dental hygiene.