A lot of myths circle around regarding chewing gum and whether or not it is good for your teeth. While it may be surprising, chewing gum has been around for centuries. In ancient times, the Greeks used to chew on sap called mastiche that came from the mastic tree. The Mayans used to chew on sap call tsicite from the sapodilla tree. And the Native Americans used to chew on spruce sap, which is a habit that they handed over to the European settlers in New England. Chewing gum today is typically made from resins, waxes, and elastomeres which are a specific combination of synthetic materials. While many myths support the dangers of chewing gum, the American Dental Association (ADA) actually recognizes the oral benefits of chewing gum, citing its scientific proof that chewing gum can help to protect the teeth.
The ADA notes that chewing gum produces a greater flow of saliva in the mouth, which is important to neutralizing and washing away acids produced after eating. Foods are broken down with the help of the bacteria on the teeth’s plaque. As such, chewing gum after a meal will help to reduce the likelihood of decay that comes from acid breaking down tooth enamel. In addition, the increases in saliva flow contribute to an increase in phosphate and calcium production, two key factors in strengthening tooth enamel. Sugar-free gum that is chewed 20 minutes after a meal has been proven to help prevent the onset of tooth decay. It is important to note, however, that chewing gum is not substitute for brushing and flossing.
When purchasing your next pack of gum, be sure to look for an ADA Seal. The presence of the Seal indicates that the gum is effective in oral health. Based on scientific evidence, the ADA Seal on chewing gum denotes one or more of the following:
- Promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel
- Helps to reduce cavities
- Helps to reduce plaque acids
- Helps to reduce gingivitis
In addition, the ADA Seal will not be given unless the chewing gum can prove that it is safe to oral tissues. Be aware that only sugar-free chewing gum is currently approved by the ADA. From giving the chewer fresh smelling breath to potentially curbing the appetite, gum chewers are aplenty in the United States. While there are certainly significant oral benefits to chewing sugar-free gum, we do warn gum chewers about possible mouth disorders such as a clicking jaw or tight jaw muscles. However, as long as you are mindful, chewing gum that is sugarless is a safe exercise recommended by the dentist.