Can Chewing Gum Improve Oral Health?
For those people who enjoy chewing gum, the question may arise, “Is chewing gum harmful for my teeth?” That depends on the type of gum you choose to chew.
The American Dental Association (ADA) as well as other dental organizations and professionals now report that clinical studies show that chewing sugarless gum for twenty minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. Chewing sugarless gum helps maintain oral health in a number of ways:
- The action of chewing gum stimulates the flow of saliva which contains minerals that strengthen the teeth and which also helps to neutralize acids which cause tooth decay.
- Chewing gum helps remove food debris from the teeth, thus assisting in preventing tooth decay.
- Chewing gum can help remove plaque as it starts to form, which then helps prevent gingivitis which is caused by plaque.
It is important, however, to chew sugarless gum since the sugar in sugared gum can be used by plaque bacteria to produce decay-causing acids.
Chewing gum can also help those people who suffer from “dry mouth”, a condition that can cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. Chewing gum helps stimulate saliva flow, thus reducing the symptoms of dry mouth.
The ADA suggests you choose gums that are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol. Several gums carry the ADA Seal and thus have met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness.
One important reminder – do not let chewing gum replace brushing and flossing your teeth. Although chewing gum does help remove food and plaque from your teeth, it cannot be substituted for both of these important dental hygiene habits. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss your teeth once a day for healthy teeth and gums.