Chewing gum has been a favorite pastime for many, but when it comes to oral health, the question arises: Is it good or bad for your teeth?
At Staten Island Dental Care – Dr. Frederick Hecht, we have a mission to serve the residents of Staten Island, New York and the NYC area with a professional level of care and comfort. We get a lot of questions about gum chewing, and found this professional perspective on the matter helpful and informative so you can make informed choices about gum chewing.
The Pros of Chewing Gum
Chewing gum, when done correctly, can offer several potential benefits:
Increased Saliva Production: Chewing gum stimulates saliva production. Saliva is nature’s way of rinsing away food particles and neutralizing acids, which can be beneficial in preventing cavities.
Fresh Breath: Sugar-free gum with natural sweeteners like xylitol can help combat bad breath by reducing bacteria in the mouth.
Reduced Acid Reflux: For some individuals, gum chewing can help alleviate acid reflux symptoms by promoting the flow of saliva that can neutralize stomach acid.
Considerations for Healthy Gum Chewing
While there are benefits to gum chewing, it’s essential to follow these guidelines to protect your oral health:
Choose Sugar-Free Gum: Avoid gum with added sugars, which can promote tooth decay. Opt for sugar-free gum with xylitol for added oral health benefits.
Moderation is Key: Chewing gum should be enjoyed in moderation. Excessive gum chewing can lead to jaw discomfort and overuse of the jaw muscles.
Avoid Gum with Aspartame: Some people are sensitive to aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in sugar-free gum. If you experience headaches or other adverse effects, consider gum without aspartame if you are sensitive to this sweet additive.
Don’t Substitute for Brushing: Chewing gum is not a replacement for brushing and flossing. Continue your regular oral hygiene routine.
The Downsides of Gum Chewing
Jaw Discomfort: Excessive gum chewing can strain your jaw muscles, leading to discomfort.
TMJ Issues: Prolonged gum chewing can exacerbate temporomandibular joint issues. That’s a pretty big word that you’ll recognize more commonly as “TMJ.” This can lead to jaw pain and dysfunction, but it can be corrected. If you have TMJ issues, come in and see us soon.
Unsuitable for Some: Not everyone is a suitable candidate for gum chewing, especially those with dental work like braces, dentures, or extensive dental restorations. Take care of those appliances, and save the gum for later.
Chewing gum can be a harmless and even helpful habit for your oral health when done correctly. Opt for sugar-free gum with xylitol, chew in moderation, and use it in addition to your regular oral hygiene routine, not a replacement. As a dentist at Staten Island Dental Care – Dr. Frederick Hecht, serving Staten Island, New York in the NYC area, I recommend a balanced approach to gum chewing that considers the potential benefits and downsides.
If you have concerns about gum chewing or any other oral health matters, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Staten Island Dental Care – Dr. Frederick Hecht for professional guidance. Your oral health is our priority, and we’re here to help you make the best choices for your smile.