Sometimes I get questions from my patients at my dental office in Fontana asking if it is okay to chew gum. My answer is invariably, “Well, it depends.” There are different types of gum with different ingredients and these factors all have an impact on whether or not it is “okay to chew gum”. Let’s go over some of the different types and their pros and cons.
The disadvantages to chewing gum are:
- If it is not sugar-free it can actually lead to cavities (dental decay).
- If the gum is hard or sticky it can cause breakage or dislodgment of dental restorations. In other words, kiss your crown goodbye.
- If you have jaw problems, it can exacerbate them.
Dry Mouth and Bad Breath
Certain diseases and medicines can affect how much saliva you make. If you do not make enough saliva, your mouth can become quite dry. This condition is called xerostomia.
Dry mouth causes the gums, tongue and other tissues in the mouth to become swollen and uncomfortable. Decay causing bacteria thrive in this type of setting. A dry mouth also leads to bad breath (halitosis).
Dry mouth also makes you more likely to develop rapid tooth decay and gum (periodontal) disease. That’s because saliva helps clear food particles from your teeth. This helps reduce your risk for cavities.
Chewing Gum for Better Dental Health
Sugar-free chewing gum or bubble gum can actually benefit your teeth.
The main reason sugar-free chewing gum helps teeth is that is stimulates salivary flow. Saliva has many benefits:
- It helps moisten food so that it is easier to swallow.
- It keeps your mouth moist and comfortable.
- It has enzymes that aid in breaking down food and helping with the digestive process.
- It bathes the teeth and helps cleanse away decay causing acids.
To summarize, it is okay to chew sugar-free gum that isn’t too sticky because it helps you produce more saliva, which in turn bathes away harmful germs from your teeth. If you have more questions about gum or your dental health, speak with your dentist. I am happy to answer your specific questions about your teeth, chewing gum, and how to improve the cleanliness of your mouth.