Most people like chewing a stick of gum now and then — but if you pop a piece in your mouth on a regular basis, what does that mean for your smile? The question of “is gum chewing bad for my teeth?” is common. Your dentist will remind you that when it comes to this habit, it is the type of gum you chew that really makes the difference. Keep reading to find out about which one to choose for cleaner and healthier teeth and gums.
Answer: Sugar-Free Gum
The most important thing to keep in mind when you are shopping for gum is that it should be sugar free. Chewing gum with sugar puts your teeth at a much higher risk of developing tooth decay, as the acids in sugar throw off the pH balance of the saliva, leading to weaker, cavity-prone tooth enamel. So — as long as the stick that you are popping in your mouth is sugar-free, you’re fine.
The Magic of Xylitol
And there is even better news for people who pick up gum containing xylitol, a sweetener commonly used in sugarless gums. This substance inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes cavities. And research shows that when the mouth is repeatedly exposed to xylitol, the makeup of oral bacteria can actually change to produce less of the cavity-causing bacteria — stopping the risk of tooth decay at the source.
If it contains xylitol, chewing gum could actually be a good preventive measure for your teeth and gums — but remember that there is never a replacement for good oral hygiene habits. Continue to brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, floss between teeth daily, and visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning every 6 months.
Chewing Gum and Jaw Pain
The very act of chewing gum causes the jaw to activate more than it usually does, which can lead to unnecessary stress and jaw pain. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain is not uncommon for adults, and those who experience it should stay away from chewing gum during moments of pain. If you suffer from a clicking, popping, or painful jaw, your dentist can help you treat the source of the issue to help you find lasting relief.
Think before You Chew
Before you pop a stick of gum in your mouth, ask yourself two questions: is it sugar-free, and does it contain xylitol? If the answer to both questions is yes, then you can feel good about proceeding. Your clean, healthy smile will thank you for the effort!
Meet the Practice
Sine 1946, Chaska Dental Center has provided dental excellence for patients of all ages. If you are interested in learning more about smart tips for a healthy smile, do not hesitate to contact their team of general dentists and specialists. Call Chaska Dental Center at (952) 448-4151.