There has been some debate on whether sugar-free gum is good for your oral hygiene or if it’s detrimental to your oral health. It may come as a surprise to you to learn that the American Dental Association actually promotes chewing sugar-free gum. In fact, there are a number of reasons why chewing sugarless gum is beneficial:
- It’s good exercise. Chewing gum is a great way to exercise your neck and jaw. It’s also beneficial for preventing teeth grinding and reducing the craving for unhealthy sweets and beverages.
- It increases saliva production. When you chew sugarless gum, you’re boosting the flow of saliva in your mouth, which helps wash away digestive acids and food particles after you eat.
- It’s safe for your oral tissues. This can result in fewer cavities, better breath, and increased enamel production, less gingivitis, dry mouth and stained teeth.
- It relieves stress. Studies suggest that people who chew gum typically consumed less alcohol, were more alert, experienced lower levels of depression and work-related stress, and had lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- It reduces tooth decay. Most sugarless gum is sweetened with xylitol, which is a healthy alternative to sugar. Xylitol prevents the growth of oral bacteria that causes cavities by inhibiting bacteria’s ability to stick to the tooth.
- It minimizes acid reflux and heartburn. Acid reflux is a condition where the stomach contents reflux into the mouth. This can cause tooth erosion which may lead to permanent and sometimes severe loss of tooth structure. If you suffer for acid reflux and heartburn, chewing gum after you eat may help limit acid in the esophagus. That’s because gum chewing increases saliva production and increases how much you swallow, which then clears the acid.
While it’s true that chewing sugarless gum has more health benefits than risks, it’s important to note that chewing gum should not be used as a substitute for regular brushing and flossing, which is imperative to your oral health. It’s also important to schedule regular dental exams.