Chewing gum can be an enjoyable habit, but what effect does it have on your oral health? Its reputation for always being bad for your teeth has changed over the years. Depending on your dental needs, it can help or hurt your teeth and jaw. Here's how gum can have bad or good effects:
Damaging dental devices
Chewing gum and braces, partials, or dentures is usually a bad combination. It can also pull out fillings and crowns. If you've had any of this dental work done, you might want to skip the chewing gum.
Fostering tooth decay - if it has sugar
If you're chewing gum that isn't sugar-free, you're not doing your mouth any favors. You're exposing your teeth to a prolonged dose of sugar. But despite popular belief, sugar doesn't directly cause cavities. The bacteria in your mouth eat sugar and then can form acid, which is what causes cavities.
Causing – or exacerbating – jaw problems
Prolonged chewing can trigger temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ. If you already have TMJ, the repeated jaw action that occurs when you're chewing gum can make it worse. TMJ affects the joints and chewing muscles that connect your lower jawbone and your skull. It's often characterized by a clicking or snapping of the jaw. If you notice that your jaw is sore while you're chewing gum or afterward, stop chewing it for a while.
Chewing sugar-free gum can actually help your teeth. If you chew it about 20 to 30 minutes after you eat, your mouth will produce more saliva. This can help rinse food particles and debris away from your teeth and down into your stomach. It neutralizes acid which otherwise could cause a cavity.
Strengthening tooth enamel
Saliva also contains the minerals phosphate and calcium, which help make your teeth stronger. It can actually reduce the advancement of tooth decay by remineralizing a very small cavity. Increasing your saliva flow can also help prevent gum disease.
Some experts think that sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol, a sugar substitute, is of particular benefit in reducing cavities. They believe it can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth. But some data suggests that gum sweetened with xylitol may not be any better for your teeth than regular sugarless gum.
Whether your gum has xylitol or another non-sugar sweetener, experts agree that chewing sugarless gum can help increase your saliva flow and thus help prevent cavities and gum disease.
If you have any jaw soreness or TMJ, you might want to cut back on your gum chewing. Otherwise, chewing a stick of sugar-free gum about 20 minutes after a meal is an enjoyable and easy way to help prevent cavities. Talk to your doctor, such as someone at Family Dental, for more information.Share
14 November 2014
Hi, my name is Kevin Nelson and I want to tell you about my experience. I had a painful tooth so I went to see my dentist. After the examination, he said that I needed to have a root canal to save the tooth. I told the dentist to just pull the tooth instead and then he explained why that wasn't a good idea. He said that pulling the tooth would cause additional problems and then he told me what could happen. I didn't want any more problems, so the dentist did the root canal and I'm glad that he did. I wanted to write a blog to tell others about the benefits of a root canal and what to expect during the procedure. I hope that by getting the word out, other people won't make the same mistake that I almost did by getting a perfectly good tooth pulled.