Most of the time, it’s concerned parents who ask Dr. DuBois whether or not chewing gum is bad for teeth. They want to make sure children establish healthy dental habits early on, and they also don’t want to have to pay for unnecessary fillings! The answer they get depends because gum can either increase your cavity risk, or it can improve dental health. It all depends on the type of gum you chew.
When Gum is Terrible for Teeth
If the gum you’re chewing has sugar in it, it’s terrible for your teeth. That yellow package of fruit gum, those juicy squares of bubble gum deliciousness, and gumball machine chewing gum is high in sugar. Unfortunately, sugar is directly connected to tooth decay.
Bacteria lives in every mouth. When you ingest sugar, bacteria begin breaking it down, and when it does so, it releases acids that harm tooth enamel. Eventually, you could end up with tooth decay and gum disease.
How do you know if your gum could be unsafe? Dr. DuBois recommends reading the nutrition label. If it contains any sugar at all, choose a different brand.
Chewing Gum That Fights Cavities
The good news is, chewing gum can be very good for your teeth. For one thing, when you chew gum you produce more saliva. Saliva cleans away food left over from your last meal and washes away bacteria that are trying to multiply.
Manufacturers can label their gum “Sugar-Free” if it contains less than .5 grams of sugar per serving. Instead, they use sweeteners like aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose and stevia. There are mixed reviews on each of those types of sweeteners, as some cause sensitivity, and all are artificial. The best types of gum to chew contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that inhibits cavity-causing bacteria.
Some types of chewing gum are approved by the American Dental Association. Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance to identify brands that meet requirements for safety and efficacy.
Pros and Cons of Chewing Gum
Even sugar-free gum chewing may not be right for everyone. Here are some of the pros and cons:
Gum Chewing Pros
- Fresher breath and increased saliva production — You may experience fewer cavities, and your mouth may feel fresher when you chew sugar-free gum.
- A possible solution for snacking or smoking — Some people connect chewing gum with weight loss or smoking cessation. It may help you reach your goals.
- Heartburn relief — All that extra saliva also washes excess acid from your esophagus. If you’re prone to heartburn, chewing gum might reduce your risk.
Gum Chewing Cons
Chewing gum loosens some types of dental work — If you have a retainer, oral appliance, filling, crown, or other types of dental work, chewing gum might cause it to come loose.
- Gum can increase jaw pain — If you have TMJ, gum chewing can worsen symptoms.
- Sweeteners can cause digestive issues — Some people experience bloating or a laxative effect from artificial sweeteners.
- Gum isn’t a toothbrush — People experience a minty or fruity taste and sometimes skip brushing. If you chew gum, it’s still important to brush and floss as recommended by your dentist.
Contact Dr. DuBois
We’re here to answer your questions about oral health or to provide you a healthier, more beautiful smile. Contact Comfort Smiles to schedule an appointment or send us your query today.