Chewing gum seems like an excellent way to get minty fresh breath after lunch, or whenever you don’t have access to a toothbrush. However, gum can sometimes cause more problems than it solves. Is gum good or bad for your teeth?
The answer is: it depends. Gum can be good or bad for your teeth, depending on the way it is sweetened. There are three different types of sweetener used in making chewing gum. The first is sugar, the second is artificial sweeteners, and the last is sugar alcohols. Here are the ways in which each type of sweetener affects your oral health:
- Sugar – Chewing gums that use sugar as the main form of sweetener are typically the worst for your teeth and gums. When you chew gum that contains sugar, the gum releases sugar into your mouth. Plaque is bacteria that builds up on your teeth, and plaque loves to feed on sugar. This sugar can be hard to get off your teeth, and if it is not removed, the bacteria can feed on it for a long time.
- Artificial Sweeteners – Some common artificial sweeteners used in chewing gums are aspartame and sucralose. These sweeteners do not release sugar into the mouth in the first 10 minutes of chewing like gums sweetened with sugar. Chewing increases the amount of saliva your mouth is producing, and this can be beneficial for a few reasons. Saliva helps to regulate the growth of plaque on your teeth. Saliva is also rich in calcium, so it helps to protect the enamel on your teeth.
- Sugar Alcohols – The last type of sweetener that is used is sugar alcohols such as xylitol and sorbitol. Xylitol is good for your teeth because it fights the bacteria contained in plaque. When using chewing gum that contains sugar alcohols, you are getting the benefits of producing more saliva, while the Xylitol is also fighting bacteria. If you are someone that loves to chew gum, choose one that contains Xylitol.
While there are types of chewing gums that are better for your teeth than others, it is always best to visit the dentist regularly for checkups and professional teeth cleanings. Contact us at Klooster Family Dentistry.