Many people love the satisfying crack of gum as they pop a bubble or work their jaw muscles, but can chewing gum lead to tooth decay? You may worry that your habit leads to poor oral health. The good news is that chewing gum can actually have some benefits if you choose the right type. Here are some of the pros and cons of gum chewing.
Pro: Chewing Gum Can Clean Your Teeth
You probably wouldn’t have guessed it since chewing gum has been linked to cavities, but if you chew sugarless gum after a meal, it can stimulate your saliva production. When you eat, the leftover bits of food on your teeth are attacked by the bacteria in plaque, producing the acids that lead to tooth decay. The saliva created by chewing gum can help wash these acids away, so you clean out your mouth without grabbing a toothbrush.
Con: Chewing Gum Can Cause Tooth Decay
Sugary chewing gum sparks the production of acid in the mouth, which can lead to tooth decay. Acid attacks the tooth enamel, which can erode, resulting in possible cavities. If you do chew sugary gum, make sure you can brush your teeth or at least swish some water or mouthwash around your mouth after you finish chewing to clear out all the excess acid.
Pro: Chewing Gum Can Reduce Heartburn
Acid reflux, or heartburn, is a painful condition where the acid produced by the stomach travels up the esophagus. If you’ve ever experienced heartburn, you know it’s unpleasant and difficult to get rid of. Chewing gum provides a way to treat this frustrating condition.
When you chew gum, you produce more saliva. You need to swallow more to empty your mouth, which removes the acidity from your mouth, easing the heartburn. However, keep in mind that some people feel bloated after chewing gum, so it may not be worth the trade-off for treating heartburn symptoms.
Con: Chewing Gum Can Wear on Your Teeth
The repetitive chewing motion when you enjoy your gum can cause wear on your teeth. Your mouth gets an extra-long workout if you chew gum for hours at a time. Just as grinding your teeth can wear them down, chewing gum can have an impact over time. Teeth with worn enamel don’t have as much protection against tooth decay.
Pro: Chewing Gum Can Sweeten Your Breath
Bacteria in your mouth cause bad breath. As we’ve already established, chewing gum reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth, so your breath will smell better. Plus, the minty smell of a piece of sugarless gum doesn’t hurt.
Con: Chewing Gum Can Irritate Your Jaw
If you have a temporomandibular joint disorder, you feel pain in your jaw when you move it. This pain can worsen when you chew gum. The repetitive motion may lead to grating or popping of the jaw.
Have more questions about chewing gum and how it can impact your dental health? Contact Dental Choice to get the answers.