Chewing Gum and Dental Health

closeup of woman and chewing gumChewing gum has been commercially produced and sold since 1848, though people have chewed natural forms of gum (such as tree resin, sweet grasses, grains, and waxes) for thousands of years. What also isn’t new is the debate about whether the popular treat is good or bad for your dental health. Teachers who contend with children might find the habit of gum chewing to be annoying, and therefore inherently bad. However, closer looks into chewing gum and dental health have shown that, under the right circumstances, the pastime may prove beneficial to helping you combat destructive cavities.

The Good

Saliva, which is comprised of about 99% water and 1% essential enzymes and antibacterial agents, is one of your mouth’s most effective natural defenses. It’s also a vital component of digestion, which is why your salivary glands go into hyper-drive whenever you eat a meal or snack. Chewing sugar-less gum also generates an influx of saliva production, helping improve your mouth’s ability to rinse away food particles and harmful bacteria while neutralizing harmful substances. For instance, when you eat and drink, some oral bacteria produce acids that attack your teeth and lead to cavity development. Made mostly of water, saliva helps negate the destructive power of acid and reduce your chances of developing tooth decay.

The Bad

Though saliva is good for your smile, chewing gum isn’t always more good than it is bad. If you have trouble chewing, or experience chronic headaches and other forms of discomfort due to jaw trouble (like TMJ disorder), then consistent mastication can actually exacerbate the problem. Also, if you constantly chew gum loaded with sugar, then its contents can fuel bacterial acid production and contribute to cavities.

ABOUT YOUR POLK CITY DENTIST:

Dr. Ryan Hussong is a dedicated restorative, family, and cosmetic dentist who is passionate about helping patients create and maintain beautiful, healthy smiles. To schedule a consultation with us, call the Cornerstone Dental office today at (515) 984-6001. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Polk City, Ankeny, Grimes, Ames, Johnston, Urbandale, and Des Moines.