Chewing gum is one of the biggest controversial topics when it comes to oral health. The real question is; is chewing gum good or bad? The answer is… well, both!
People have been chewing gum, in various forms, since ancient times. Ancient Mayan people in the Americas chewed on chicle, which came from the sap of the sapodilla tree to quench thirst or hunger. It was also used to freshen breath and clean their teeth. The indigenous people of America chewed spruce tree resin. The world’s first chewing gum factory was constructed in Portland, Maine in the 1950s.
Although it varies from company to company, gum is generally made out of three main components; resin, wax, and elastomer. Gum base can also be made out of synthetic materials such as different types of rubber or plastic. Sweeteners, flavorings, and softeners (such as vegetable oil) are added for extra flavor and chewability.
There is a reason why chewing gum is so widely popular, even since the stone age. The biggest appeal chewing gum has is its ability to help keep your breath nice and fresh. However, gum also has several functions outside of simply tasting good and freshening someone’s breath. Sugar-free gum helps to contribute to increasing salivary flow by 10-12 times the normal unstimulated rate. Stimulated saliva helps aid in oral health for several reasons. Saliva helps to dilute and neutralize acids that can be found in bacteria and plaque in the teeth*. It can also help rinse out food and clear bacteria, helping prevent tooth damage. According to the American Dental Association, chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals has proven to help strengthen teeth enamel and freshen breath. The key is opting for sugar-free gum, because sugar-free gum contains non-cavity-causing sweeteners.
Chewing gum excessively has connections to many health issues as well. Chewing gum exercises your jaw muscles. Your jaw, just like any muscle in your body, when it gets overworked or aggressively used can cause pain and even TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction) disorders. The TMJ is the joint where the jaw meets the skull. It can also cause the muscles in your face to tighten, leading to headaches and neck pain.
Gum containing sugar should be avoided to prioritize your oral health. Sugary gum can cause cavities, tooth decay, and eventually periodontal disease. Sugar coats your teeth and gradually eats away at the enamel, which is the strong outer barrier of your teeth. Too much sugary gum also can cause gingivitis and gum disease.
Whether you are worried about the condition of your teeth or want to stay on top of your oral health, Apple Tree Dental can take care of you! Sugar-induced cavities can be treated by your Apple Tree dentist, regardless of your age or health history. We have a wide variety of preventive and restorative procedures to help your oral health to be at its best! Call us at (208)359-1500 or contact us today!
For more information about how sugar affects your teeth and oral health, click here!