You may have heard that chewing gum is bad for your teeth and that chewing gum is good for your teeth. So what is the answer?
Chewing gum can be good and bad for your teeth depending on what type of gum you chew. Chewing gum can be classified into 3 different types based on how it it sweetened:
- Gum that is sweetened the old fashioned way—-with sugar.
- Gum that is sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartane.
- Gum that is sweetened with sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol.
Chewing Sweetened Gum:
When you chew gum sweetened with sugar, there are 2 phases: the first phase, which can last for 10 minutes or more, is when you are releasing sugar from the gum into your mouth. The bacteria in the plaque that lives in your mouth loves to feed on the sugar found in gum and then start to attack your teeth. The sugar in chewing gum sweetened with sugar can stick around in your mouth for a long time and continue feeding the bacteria that live on your teeth.
The second phase: after some time has passed,and you have now swallowed all of the sugar in the chewing gum, it usually promotes a re-minerlization of your teeth’s enamel after all the sugar has left your mouth, because the act of chewing causes your saliva to increase.
Chewing Artificially Sweetened Gum
Chewing gum sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as aspertane or Sucralose, you will simply be stimulating the flow of saliva in your mouth. This is a good thing, because saliva can protect your teeth in many ways. Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes following a meal or snack has been shown to accelerate the return the mouth to it’s rest pH level. Keep in mind that many people have issues with the safety of extended use of artificial sweeteners.
Chewing Gum Sweetened With Sugar Alcohols
The last type of chewing gum is the gum that is sweetened with sugar alcohols such as xylitol and sorbital. Xylitol has been shown to help fight against the bacteria that eat away at your teeth. Chewing gum that contains xylitol is like the holy grail of chewing gum when it comes to your oral health! When you chew gum that contains xylitol, you get all the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum. In addition to those benefits, you get the cavity-fighting power of xylitol. You can make sure that the gum you chew contains xylitol by checking the ingredient list on the back of the package. What more could you as for from a little piece of gum?
In summary, here’s the 3 chewing gum types listed from best to worst:
- Xylitol–sweetened chewing gum—this is what Dr. Shlafer recommends
- Artificially sweetened gum
- Sugar-sweetened gum
It is important to remember that chewing gum helps release salivia which helps to rinse sugar away from your teeth. Do you have questions about how chewing gum affects your oral health? We would love to hear from you.