Gum gets your mouth feeling minty fresh. But did you know that you can protect your teeth by putting a stick of gum in your mouth? TV commercials and magazine ads promote a message from gum manufacturers that their products benefit your teeth. So, we’re going to break down exactly how this sticky stuff helps your oral health.
PICK SUGARLESS GUM
Not every kind of chewing gum is good for you. It’s the sugarless stuff that can be beneficial. One 40-month double-blind study showed that sugarless gum reduced cavities. You produce saliva when you chew and that helps wash away food or harmful bacteria.
“Sugarless gum is a great way to keep bad bacteria out of your mouth,” said said Dr. Jason Kboudi, who leads the practice at Advanced Smile Care. “If you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, sugarless gum can be a great way to help keep your mouth clean. However, we don’t recommend that you chew gum after dental work. Your don’t want to damage your crowns or have the gum pull out any fillings. Otherwise, we recommend gum in moderation. Excessive chewing can lead to jaw pain and the occasional failure of your temporomandibular joint(TMJ). Your TMJ is located on both sides of your head, right in front of your ear.”
WHICH BRAND OF GUM IS BEST?
The American Dental Association has a list of gums that carry its ADA Seal of approval. The seal is given to products which meet its standards of safety and effectiveness. The sugarless gums on the ADA list incorporate sweeteners that do not cause cavities. The ADA says to be wary of gum ads that tout the sweetener xylitol to fight tooth decay. According to research published by the Cochrane Library, researchers found little to no evidence of any benefit in tooth decay reduction after consuming products with xylitol.
Here’s the list of ADA approved gums:
- 5 Sugar Free Gum
- Bazooka Sugar Free Bubble Gum (Original and Blue Razz)
- Dentyne Ice Sugarless Gum
- Eclipse Sugarfree Gum
- Extra Sugarfree Gum
- Ice Breakers Ice Cubes
- Orbit Sugarfree gum
- Trident Sugarfree gum
Dr. Kboudi says while these options are a great way to reduce tooth decay, it’s not a replacement.
“Certain flavors of chewing gum taste like toothpaste and make your mouth feel fresher, but the benefits are limited. Gum will not reach the crevices of your mouth. Remember, there is no substitute for brushing and flossing your teeth,” said Dr. Kboudi.
The ADA has a fun, mini-quiz to test your knowledge on the benefits of chewing gum. You can take it here.