Is chewing gum bad for your teeth, good for your teeth or what?
You may have heard mixed messages in the news about chewing gum, so here is the latest advice about chewing gum and your teeth.
- Avoid chewing gum with sugar in it. While sugar-containing gum does increase saliva flow, which is good, the sugar is used by plaque bacteria to produce decay-causing acids. Chewing gum with sugar is essentially “bathing” the teeth in sugar.
- Generally, it has been thought that sugar-free gum chewed after meals and snacks can help rinse off and neutralize the acids released by the bacteria in plaque. Non cavity-causing sweeteners include aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol.
- However, artificial sweeteners are NOT the perfect answer. For example, aspartame has been linked to birth defects, cancers, brain tumors and weight gain.
- The artificial sweetener xylitol is thought to be the best choice for sugar-free gum because the xylitol has an added benefit of inhibiting the growth of a certain kind of oral bacteria.
- Unfortunately, however, the most recent Cochrane review study did not find any “robust” evidence to support the claim that xylitol in candies and gums boosted oral health.
- Avoid chewing gum if you have tempomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Chewing gum can cause jaw muscle imbalance.
- Chewing gum may cause gastrointestinal problems, either from swallowing excess air or from the artificial sweeteners.
Bottom line? If you must chew (because you need to relieve stress or stop smoking, etc.), then please choose a sugar-free gum with xylitol. But as with anything, the key is moderation, so don’t overdo (chew) it!