Is Chewing Gum Bad for Your Teeth?
Have you ever been told that when you swallow gum, it stays in your stomach for years? That myth has thankfully been debunked, but chewing gum definitely isn’t harmless. At Lifetime Family Dental, we want to help you keep your teeth in top shape by understanding the effects that chewing gum has on your dental health. Is chewing gum bad for your teeth? In general, yes, but the answer to that question is actually a bit more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.”
Is Chewing Gum Bad for Your Teeth?
Whether or not chewing gum is bad for your teeth depends on the type of gum you chew and how often you chew gum. For example, gum that contains sugar is particularly bad for your teeth, while sugar-free chewing gum with xylitol can actually have some benefits.
Chewing gum typically involves exposing your teeth to sugar for long periods of time, increasing your risk of developing cavities. The bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar and create acids that attack your teeth. The more gum you chew, the higher your risk of tooth decay.
Chewing any kind of gum is bad for your jaw if you chew too frequently. Excessively chewing gum—especially if you tend to chew it only with one side of your mouth—can fatigue your jaw muscles. Sore jaw muscles often lead to a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which can cause severe pain and discomfort.
Making a habit of regularly chewing gum can also cause significant wear on your teeth. Enamel erosion can expose the inner pulp of your teeth and make them vulnerable to tooth decay. Tooth pulp is very sensitive, so when it becomes exposed, it can be very painful to consume hot and cold foods and beverages.
Is Chewing Sugar-Free Gum Bad for Your Teeth?
Unless it’s chewed excessively, sugar-free gum is not bad for your teeth because the lack of sugar means it does not contribute to tooth decay. In fact, if you don’t have a toothbrush handy, chewing sugarless gum after a meal can help remove bacteria and food particles in your mouth and help prevent tooth decay and bad breath.
However, that doesn’t mean sugar-free gum is a substitute for a good oral hygiene routine. You should still brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to maintain excellent oral health. When you do chew gum, make sure to chew sugarless gum that has the American Dental Association seal of acceptance.
Apart from cleaning your teeth, chewing sugar-free gum in moderation can also offer a variety of health benefits, such as:
- Heartburn Relief
Chewing gum increases saliva production, which makes you swallow more frequently. Swallowing reduces the acidity in your mouth, which can help relieve heartburn (acid reflux).
- Weight Loss
Combined with a healthy diet and exercise, chewing gum can help you lose weight by helping to satisfy your sweet tooth with a low-calorie treat. However, fruits are still a much healthier option when it comes to a sweet snack because they offer important nutrients and hydration.
- Memory Improvement
Chewing gum while performing tasks has been shown to help boost your memory and increase alertness.
Gentle Teeth Cleanings in Gilbert
Whether or not you chew gum, it’s important to get regular professional teeth cleanings to keep your mouth healthy. Regular teeth cleaning appointments will also allow our compassionate staff to identify and treat any wear and tear caused by gum-chewing habits. Call 480-558-4331 today to schedule an appointment at Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, Arizona.