Chewing gum has always been a tricky subject when it comes to your dental health and whether it is good or bad for your teeth. There are many types of chewing gum from sugar filled bubble gum to sugar free whitening gum, but is it all bad? The gum you choose can have a major effect on your oral health, so it is important to know the difference.
Good vs. Bad
First, it is good to know what chewing gum is actually made of. Most gum is made up of a gum base, a softener, a sweetener, and a flavor. The main thing to pay attention to when choosing a chewing gum is the sweetener. Sugar is known to be detrimental to the health of your teeth because when it mixes with the bacteria in your mouth, it forms an acid that eats away at the surfaces of your teeth. Any sugary gum is best left out of your mouth.
It would be better to go with a sugar free option which now comes in several amazing flavors from your basic mint to key lime pie. Chewing sugar free gum after meals can actually increase your saliva production and help rinse left over food particles and bacteria out of your mouth. Be careful though, not all sugar free gum is created equal. Some artificial sweeteners have a high amount of acid that can also cause tooth decay but a sweetener called Xylitol can actually reduce your risk of decay. Xylitol is a particular sweetener that bacteria in the mouth cannot use as a food source. So instead of feeding the bacteria, we are reducing them by not giving them anything to eat.
When Not to Chew Gum
Even if it is sugar free gum, sometimes it is best not to chew gum at all. If you are experiencing tooth or jaw pain, you should probably avoid chewing gum as it can make this pain worse. It is also recommended to avoid gum if you have braces or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).
If you have questions about which gum is good for your teeth, which you should avoid, or if you are having tooth pain, you should contact a doctor before chewing gum. For those living in the San Diego and Rancho Bernardo area that would like more information on chewing gum and your dental health, please contact Dr. Chan today!