It’s a habit most of us enjoy as kids and many of us never grow out of as adults: chewing gum. We chew gum to freshen our breath after meals and to blow bubbles just for fun. When it comes to your oral health, gum can be a mixed bag: in some cases, gum can benefit your oral health. In other cases, chewing gum can create serious problems. Today we’re looking at the good, the bad, and the chewy of chewing gum.
First, the Good News . . .
If you already make it a habit to pop a piece of mint or cinnamon gum in your mouth after you eat to neutralize the odors left behind by strongly flavored foods, you’re in for some good news. The American Dental Association promotes chewing sugarless gum after meals. The chewing action stimulates the flow of saliva, which washes away particles of food. Even better, the ADA endorses certain brands of gum (like Trident and Orbit) because they contain xylitol, a compound that neutralizes oral acids and helps remineralize tooth enamel. Of course, chewing sugarless gum is not meant to replace brushing and flossing but rather enhance your existing dental hygiene routine.
Beware the Bubble
Just as sugar-free gum can promote good oral health, habitually chewing on gum that contains sugar (think bubble gum or classic chewing gums like Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, or Big Red) can create an environment that damages your teeth. When you chew sugary gum, you’re basically allowing your teeth to remain inconstant contact with sugar. The bacteria living in your mouth feed on these sugars, producing an acidic byproduct that erodes your enamel and eventually leads to cavity formation. You can find all your favorite flavors of sugary gum in sugar-free varieties, so making the switch can make your smile much healthier.
Gum Can be a Pain in the Jaw
Gum is fun but, if you suffer from sore jaw muscles, a popping or clicking jaw, or frequent tension headaches or facial pain, that gum chewing can make your condition much worse. TMJ sufferers and people who unconsciously grind their teeth at night (bruxers) are cautioned to avoid chewing gum as this activity places further stress on already stressed out joints and muscles.
About Your Lafayette Dentist
Dr. Michael J. Young has received extensive hands-on training and education in a wide range of general, cosmetic, and restorative dental services. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael J. Young, please contact our Lafayette dentist office by calling (337) 237-6453. Located in the 70508 area, we proudly serve patients from Lafayette, Acadiana, and all surrounding communities.