Chewing Gum: Good or Bad?
Next time you are in the checkout line at the grocery store and your child wants to grab a pack of gum instead of telling them “no”, you may want to say “yes”. Chewing gum, especially sugar-free gum, can actually help improve your child’s oral health.
Dramatically Reduce Decay-Causing Bacteria by Chewing Gum
Xylitol, a sweetener used in sugar-free gum, has been shown to dramatically reduce the amount of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. Simply chewing sugar-free gum will reduce the likelihood that your child will develop cavities or extensive tooth decay because the bacteria is being eliminated.
Damaging Acids are Neutralized by Chewing Gum
All types of foods and drinks from sodas and teas to pizza and spaghetti contain harmful acids. If left on your child’s teeth for prolonged periods of time, these acids can cause cavities and extensive damage.
Brushing your teeth is the best way to get rid of these acids, but there are times when you cannot brush. When you can’t brush, chewing sugar-free gum can help eliminate these harmful acids. The harmful acids are eliminated because chewing gum causes your body to increase saliva production. The more saliva you have in your mouth, the less acid that is present.
Chewing Gum isn’t Always Good
While chewing sugar-free gum can be helpful, there are times when chewing gum might not be a good idea. If your child has jaw pain or suffers from TMD/TMJ, painful or sensitive teeth, wears braces, or has numerous fillings or crowns, it may not be a good idea to chew gum.
In most situations, chewing sugar-free gum can be helpful and even improve oral health. However, it is important to remember that while chewing gum can help reduce the number of dental problems you experience, it cannot be used in place of good oral hygiene practices. Your child should always brush and floss regardless of if he or she chews sugar-free gum.