The question of the day: Is chewing gum healthy?
In short, it depends. Please allow us to explain.
How is it healthy?
As you've probably heard in many advertisements, chewing gum helps cleans the teeth. This statement is true, but not quite to the degree that you would expect it. Chewing gum helps increase the flow of saliva in your mouth. The increase in saliva can help neutralize acids which prevents tooth decay. This is the most effective after eating. Chewing gum for 20 minutes after meals is the most effective for "cleansing." Here are 5 (potential) benefits of chewing gum - not that we are validating them!
How is it unhealthy?
Unfortunately there is a compelling amount of evidence that long term gum chewing can lead to more detrimental consequences such as TMJ disorder, Gastrointestinal problems, tooth damage, and mercury release from fillings. Here are 6 (potential) side effects of chewing gum.
Which chewing gums are best?
Look for options that have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance. This assures that scientists have evaluated the gum for safety and effectiveness. The seal also certifies that the claims the gum may be making on the packaging are true. To date, only sugar-free gums have received the ADA seal.
Sugar vs. sugar-free?
While chewing gum with sugar will have the same effect of increasing saliva flow in the mouth, the sugar in the gum can be used by plaque and bacteria to produce the acids that can cause tooth decay, effectively cancelling out any positive effect the gum would be having. Sugar-free gums use sweeteners that will not cause decay, such as aspartame and xylitol. Spry is an excellent choice when looking for a chewing gum alternative; it is made with xylitol and tastes great!
Does chewing gum replace brushing/flossing?
Not even close. Chewing gum is great if you can’t brush immediately following eating or drinking, but it should never be used as a replacement. You should still brush and floss twice daily or you'll be seeing us a lot more often.
As long as you choose chewing gum marked with the ADA seal, you can chew with confidence. Your breath will be fresher and your mouth will feel cleaner.