Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Teeth? Here’s What Research Says | Saunders DDS
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    Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Teeth? Here’s What Research Says

    by Saunders DDS on December 17, 2019

    When it comes to your teeth and gums, you want to do everything possible to ensure your smile remains beautiful and healthy. Of course, brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist in Asheville for checkups are essential.

    But have you heard that sugar-free chewing gum can have a positive effect on your smile? While we know that gum that contains sugar contributes to tooth decay, there is research supporting the use of gum without sugar for certain oral health benefits.

    Here’s what you need to know about the research behind sugar-free gum and your teeth!

    Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Stimulates Saliva Flow

    When you chew food, the action of chewing stimulates saliva production in your oral cavity. Saliva is beneficial to your smile in a few key ways.

    Saliva not only acts as a buffer between acidic foods and drinks and your teeth, but it also helps to remineralize tooth enamel and support a healthy smile.

    Research shows that sugar-free chewing gum enhances the positive effects of saliva. Not only does chewing gum boost saliva production, which can help prevent acids from damaging your tooth enamel, but you also swallow the excess saliva, which helps remove harmful acids from the mouth.

    In addition, stimulated saliva contains higher concentrations of minerals, and has a better ability to act as a buffer between foods and your teeth, which can further help protect against enamel erosion.

    Saliva also helps get rid of carbohydrates that remain in the mouth after eating, which oral bacteria begin to break down. This metabolizing process creates acids that can damage tooth enamel—so extra saliva is yet another way sugar-free gum can protect the teeth!

    May Protect Teeth Against Dry Mouth and Acid Reflux

    Sugar-free gum may also help protect your teeth against the effects of gastroesophageal reflux disease, sometimes called acid reflux disease. This condition can be hugely damaging to teeth, as harsh stomach acids can end up in the oral cavity and wear away tooth enamel over time.

    However, by chewing sugarless gum and having more saliva, you may be able to reduce the effects of acid reflux on your teeth. Of course, you should also receive treatment or manage acid reflux instead of relying solely on chewing gum!

    Sugarless chewing gum may also be an effective treatment for dry mouth. Chronic dry mouth can negatively impact tooth enamel, making it more likely that acids and bacteria attack your teeth and leave them more susceptible to tooth sensitivity and tooth decay.

    People experience chronic dry mouth for a variety of reasons. By managing the cause of your dry mouth in addition to utilizing sugar-free chewing gum, you may be able to help remedy the condition and protect your smile in the process!

    Chewing Sugarless Gum Is Proven to Have an Anti-Cavity Effect

    Other research states that chewing sugar-free gum has been proven to have an anti-cavity effect on teeth. It stimulates strong saliva production, clears sugars from the mouth, and provides enhanced remineralization effects for your tooth enamel.

    Chewing gum may even be used as a preventative treatment for cavities, although it should never be used in place of your regular oral care habits such as brushing, flossing, and visiting your Asheville dentist in addition to a healthy diet!

    May Help Reduce Plaque Development

    There’s been specific research focusing on sugar-free gum that contains xylitol, which is a natural sugar alcohol that’s used as a sweetener.

    Chewing gum with xylitol may help reduce plaque in the oral cavity, which could result in a lower risk for both tooth decay and gum disease.

    In one study, the weight of plaque collected in people who chewed gum with xylitol was 40 percent lower than people who chewed gum sweetened with sucrose, which is common table sugar. This evidence demonstrates how important it is to choose sugarless gum over regular gum!

    Decreases the Acidity of Saliva

    Chewing gum can stop saliva from becoming acidic, which can mean that the chances of tooth decay are reduced. When looking at the effects of sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol, researchers found that xylitol wasn’t metabolized by oral bacteria, meaning it couldn’t contribute to tooth decay.

    The pH of saliva can constantly change and become more or less acidic depending on a variety of factors, including what you consume. Eating foods higher in sugar or consuming acidic drinks can cause your saliva to become more acidic in nature, which can contribute to tooth enamel damage.

    However, chewing gum with xylitol can prevent this effect, making your oral cavity a more friendly place for bacteria that help your teeth and gums rather than hurting them!

    Chewing Gum Best Practices

    Now that you’ve seen some positive research about the effects of chewing gum on your smile, it’s time to review chewing gum best practices to ensure that if you choose to chew, you get the most benefits out of this practice and support your oral health instead of harming it!

    1. Always choose sugarless gum or gum with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance. This seal will guarantee that the gum is free from conventional sugar and instead uses sugarless sweeteners. For added benefits, you may choose to look for a gum with xylitol as the sweetener!
    2. Don’t let chewing gum replace your regular oral care habits, including brushing, flossing, and getting those regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist in Asheville.
    3. It’s best to chew sugarless gum immediately after eating for about 20 minutes. You may choose to chew more or less often, but remember that chewing too much can aggravate the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on either side of your head, which supports jaw function. If your jaw gets tired, it’s probably time to stop!

    The Verdict

    Chewing gum may help prevent cavities when used appropriately and when used in conjunction with other oral care treatments. Do you enjoy chewing sugarless gum? It could just help your smile! If you have questions about your oral health, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Saunders DDS. We’re your professional family dentist in Asheville! Contact us today at (828) 277-6060 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about what we offer.

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