Chewing Gum: Bad, Better, & Best

Bubble gum has a rather negative reputation among health fanatics, as incessant chewing of sugary varieties is both annoying and can be detrimental to the condition of your teeth. But many types of chewing gum can actually improve your oral health when utilized smartly and in moderation. Most importantly, the specific type of gum you chew determines how helpful or harmful it is to your smile. The ADA reports that using gum can help prevent tooth decay, freshen breath, and increase saliva production, which are all healthy preventative benefits of the habit. Still, experts advise that gum chewing is never a replacement for your regular oral hygiene regimen of brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist office.

Consult with a trusted dental professional about gum's impact on your oral health, and educate yourself about the following helpful--and harmful--chewing varieties.


SUGAR-BASED GUMS The typical fruity-flavored, brightly packaged varieties of gum contain levels of sugar that are harmful to your overall oral health. These candies exacerbate plaque buildup on your teeth, leading to more serious conditions like periodontal disease and tooth decay. While there are many benefits of regular gum chewing, the negative effects of selecting a sugary kind will vastly outweigh any potential health advantages. Worst of all, the appearance and flavor of many damaging bubble gums are marketed toward children. Younger family members benefit greatly from responsible preventative oral care, so make sure to provide kids with a less harmful variety. There are many foods bad for your teeth, and certain gums are among the worst.


ZERO-CALORIE SWEETENER GUM Dentists recommend sugarless gum to satisfy your chewing habit and reap the great oral benefits of a healthy brand. Chewing a sugar-free variety can help control plaque, wash away food, and encourage saliva formation which strengthens teeth. A sugarless gum can also neutralize harmful acids that linger in your mouth after meals. However, the healthy claims of "sugar-free" are not all that they appear. Gums with additives like aspartame and sucralose have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and can disrupt your otherwise healthy metabolism. Brands with these particular sugar substitutes may contain preservatives that are detrimental to your long-term health. While many weight-conscious gum chewers choose alternative sweeteners for taste without the calories, it's important to ask a dental professional about ongoing research on the various types and their impact on your well-being.


SUGAR-FREE GUM WITH XYLITOL Many dentists and hygienists recommend gums containing Xylitol as their main sweetener. The sweet-tasting alcohol additive is naturally derived and kills harmful bacteria in your mouth as you chew. Unlike some other gums, it won't deposit acids that deteriorate enamel, and repeated chewing will help loosen harmful substances that stick to the teeth. When you use a Xylitol-based gum over time, chewing can help prevent cavities, reduce plaque, and restore a healthy surface to your pearly whites. The ingredient is known to be safe for diabetics who need to control their blood sugar, and brands with the ADA seal can help you avoid calories while protecting your dental health.

If you'd like to use gum for its oral health benefits, consult with a reputable cosmetic dentist for advice on preventative care.