Chewing Gum for Oral Hygiene — Good Idea or Bad?

Is it true that your oral hygiene can improve if you chew gum?

chewing gum oral health

Most products found in the candy aisle at the grocery store aren’t exactly good for your mouth. Eating sugary treats can create the ideal environment for decay-causing bacteria to thrive, leading to plaque, cavities and a loss of critical tooth minerals.

However, some types of chewing gum carry a Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association. This means that, instead of being harmful to the teeth, these chewing gums can help boost your oral hygiene.

Chewing Sugarless Gum Helps Prevent Tooth Decay

The ADA says that chewing gum for 20 minutes after each meal can help prevent tooth decay. But this is only with sugarless gums. Products that contain sugar have a detrimental effect on your oral hygiene.

How does chewing sugarless gum benefit your oral health? The physical act of chewing along with the flavor of the artificial sweeteners work together to stimulate your saliva production. Saliva can flow at up to 10 times the normal rate when you chew sugar-free gum.

This increased flow of saliva washes away food particles and neutralizes the acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. The calcium and phosphate contained in your saliva also help to strengthen tooth enamel.

Some sugar-free chewing gums that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain therapeutic agents that provide additional dental benefits. For example, you can find gum with an active ingredient — xylitol — that helps to remineralize the teeth and reduce gingivitis.

Can Chewing Sugarless Gum Replace Other Oral Hygiene Habits?

Chewing sugar-free gum is an effective supplement to your oral hygiene habits, but it can’t be used as a replacement for your normal routine.

The ADA recommends that children and adults brush twice per day for two minutes, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. Sonic toothbrushes are also a good option, as they can clean the teeth and mouth more thoroughly.

Flossing and rinsing with a dentist-recommended mouthwash are also essential steps to your daily oral health care.

Can Chewing Gum Improve Oral Hygiene for Everyone?

For most patients, chewing sugarless gum after meals is a good idea — particularly in situations where brushing and flossing simply aren’t practical. When you can’t get to a toothbrush and dental floss, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum is the next best thing.

However, not everyone should chew gum. If you have any type of jaw pain or suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), chewing gum is not recommended. Chewing gum stresses the jaw joint and can increase or worsen symptoms.

The professional team of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah is dedicated to your oral health. Contact our South Jordan office today to learn more about the benefits of effective oral hygiene.