Since ancient times, people have chewed gum in some form. Most ancient gum came from different types of trees all over the world. Gum is just as popular as ever, but it’s now made from synthetic materials.
Most assumptions made about gum related to oral health are that the relationship is strictly negative. However, some of the synthetic ingredients in sugar-free gum have been proven to actually improve dental health. See what your children’s dentist has to say about gum and cavity prevention.
Some Gum Protects Teeth from Damage
Physically preventing tooth decay
Who knew that some gums can help in cavity prevention? Chewing gum for 20 minutes after meals can help prevent tooth decay. The physical act of chewing gum causes increased saliva flow in the mouth. After meals, increased saliva works to neutralize and wash away acids produced from the breakdown of food.
Over time, without prevention, the acids in the mouth can cause tooth decay. Chewing gum also works to remove food debris after meals that may cause decay in hard to reach spots.
Ingredients help prevent cavities
Often, sugar-free gum contains xylitol, a special ingredient used as a sweetener. Xylitol inhibits the growth of oral bacteria that cause cavities. Bacteria lose the ability to attach to the tooth in the presence of xylitol. This stunts the cavity-causing process. Xylitol exposure, over time, causes the types of bacteria in the mouth to change and fewer decay-causing bacteria can survive on tooth surfaces.
Some types of gum contain active agents that not only prevent decay but also help teeth recover from certain damage. Gum can have the ability to remineralize teeth and reduce plaque and gingivitis.
Look for the ADA Seal when choosing your next pack of gum. To earn the seal, a gum must meet one or more of the ADA requirements. These requirements are reducing plaque acids, promoting remineralization of tooth enamel, reducing cavities, and reducing gingivitis. The manufacturer of the gum must provide the results of both lab studies and clinical studies in humans.
Positive Effects Don’t Outweigh the Negatives for Everyone
If you suffer from TMJ, chewing gum can increase uncomfortable and even painful symptoms. If you experience any jaw pain or disorder, you should avoid chewing gum and discuss with your children’s dentist other options that are available to you.
For most people, chewing gum can be an extremely helpful addition to their oral health routine. In situations when brushing and flossing aren’t practical, chewing gum is a helpful alternative. However, it should never replace your oral care routine of brushing and flossing twice daily.