Does Chewing Gum Protect Teeth?

Closeup of a woman with brown hair blowing a pink gum bubble against a red wall

These days, it can seem like we’re constantly on the go; and with a flurry of tasks and activities, fitting in daily oral care can seem like a chore. Consequently, you may be tempted to pop in a piece of gum on your way out the door instead of spending two minutes brushing your teeth. While replacing proper oral care with chewing gum will not keep your teeth healthy and strong, chewing the right kind as a supplement to proper brushing, flossing, and biannual dental visits can help your oral health! Read on to discover which kind of gum is safe for your teeth.

Which Gum Is Safe for My Teeth?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends chewing sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after eating. This stimulates saliva production that can wash away any food residue left behind before acid-producing bacteria have a chance to feed on it. But double-check your pack before you buy, as you only want to chew sugar-free. Sugary gum will do more harm than good for your oral health, as the sticky texture allows the sugar to linger on your teeth, increasing your risk for tooth decay.

How Does Xylitol Help?

Fortunately, chewing gum has evolved quite a bit from its ancient origin as tree resin. Today, companies closely guard their mysterious “gum base” recipes, but in general, chewing gum is a blend of natural and synthetic materials that provide an enjoyable texture and flavor. One such flavoring ingredient commonly included in sugarless gums is xylitol, a crystalline sugar alcohol derived from plants that is sweet-tasting but sugar-free. Unlike sugar, the bacteria in your mouth do not feed on xylitol, so it cannot cause tooth decay. In fact, this sweetener is believed to neutralize the pH balance in your mouth, preventing acid from dissolving the mineral crystals in your tooth enamel teeth, and therefore helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities.

Who Shouldn’t Chew Sugar-Free Gum?

We are big fans of sugar-free gum and often recommend it to our patients who want a little extra cleaning throughout the day. However, we do not recommend it if you suffer from pain, clicking, and/or popping in your jaw. Reach out to our expert team for a consultation to pinpoint and treat the cause of your jaw discomfort!

Are There Other On-The-Go Solutions?

No “on-the-go” solution should ever replace twice-daily brushing of your teeth and daily flossing. That said, there are a few other ways besides chewing sugar-free gum to freshen your breath and clean your mouth in a pinch. A healthy snack like an apple or a few sticks of celery with a glass of water is a simple way to help clean your teeth, as the fiber in the apple and celery can scrub the surface of your teeth while water washes away residual food particles. Other helpful products include alcohol-free mouthwash, sugar-free mints, a water flosser, floss picks, and travel toothbrushes.

Proper Preventive Care

Remember that sugar-free chewing gum should only ever be used supplementarily for optimal oral health. In conjunction with a good oral hygiene routine, it can help keep your teeth healthy and strong. Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time, floss each day, and visit our office regularly for cleanings and exams. To ask our team any questions about the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum, or to schedule your next visit to our Gilbert dental office, contact us today!

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