Can I Chew Gum?

Can I Chew Gum?

Young Woman Blowing a Chewing Gum BubbleThe answer to the question, “Can I chew gum?” may surprise you.  Not only can you, you should!  Of course there some general guidelines as to which type of gum you should chew and how often you should chew it.

What is Chewing Gum?
Chewing gum has evolved from the sap that ancient Mayans chewed to the blend of synthetic material that we now chew.  Chewing gum has long been thought of as a type of candy, however the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal now recognizes chewing gum that is sugarfree and contains the ingredient Xylitol, such as the brand Orbit, as aiding in the protection of teeth from the development of cavities.

When you Chew Gum, it Stimulates the Glands in your Mouth to Produce Saliva
The physical act of chewing gum stimulates your mouth to increase saliva production.  According to the ADA, “if you chew gum after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by bacteria and plaque on your teeth.”  If the acids are not removed from your teeth, they eventually break down enamel and create cavities.  When you chew gum, increased saliva production limits plaque acids and encourages remineralization of tooth enamel, therefore preventing cavity formation.

Xylitol mechanismWhat is Xylitol?
Xylitol is sugar substitute that does not act as a food source for the type of bacteria that is most linked to tooth decay and instead promotes remineralization of tooth enamel.  Chewing sugarfree gum that contains Xylitol is endorsed by the ADA and scientifically proven to lower the prevalence of tooth decay, such as Orbit.  Pick up a sample of Orbit chewing gum from our office at your next dental appointment!

Orbit Gum
Does Chewing Gum Replace Brushing and Flossing?
No, chewing gum does not replace regular brushing and flossing.  The ADA and Dr. Sioda both “recommend brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once daily with dental floss or other interproximal dental cleaners.”

In conclusionyes, you may chew gum as long as it is sugarless and contains Xylitol instead of sugar.  If you cannot brush or floss after a meal, try to chew gum immediately following eating to help prevent tooth decay by promoting salivary production.  If you have a history of tooth decay (and even if you don’t!) try to get into the habit of chewing sugarless gum that contains Xylitol regularly.  However, if you have or develop tenderness in your jaw, discontinue chewing gum and call our office.

Otherwise, enjoy chewing gum and preventing cavities!  Please do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions at 253-759-7941.

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