To Chew or Not To Chew

Chewing gum has been around for a long time. In fact, our ancestors used natural materials like tree resin, sweet grasses and waxes for their chewing pleasure and to freshen the breath. New England Native Americans taught early colonists to chew the gummy resin that seeps from cuts in spruce trees. 200 years ago, lumps of this “spruce gum” were sold as America’s first chewing gum.

Now chewing gum comes in a bewildering array of flavors, sizes and shapes, both sugared and sugarless. Chewing gum that contains sugar can increase your risk of tooth decay. But is it okay to chew sugarless gum?

Chewing Sugarless Gum May Help Prevent Tooth Decay

The American Dental Association (ADA) has found that the act of chewing naturally increases your flow of saliva. After a meal, food will leave bacteria and acids on your teeth as it breaks down. Chewing sugarless gum after eating will increase the salivary flow to help wash away and neutralize these acids.

Another benefit from more saliva is that it carries more minerals like calcium and phosphate to help strengthen the enamel of the teeth. Stronger enamel will last longer against the acids that try to break it down.

Chewing gum is never a substitute for regular brushing and flossing your teeth as part of good oral health care. But it can be an easy way to help protect your teeth right after meals, before you have a chance to brush away food particles and bacteria.

So, like most things in life, enjoy chewing gum in moderation and always choose a sugarless gum. Look for the ADA seal showing that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety by the Ada Council on Scientific Affairs. Gums that are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners may reduce plaque acids, promote remineralization of tooth enamel, reduce cavities and/or reduce gingivitis.

Let Us Know If You Have Questions on Any Aspect of Oral Health Care

Dr. Lorraine Burio of Candlewood Dental Care has been treating and educating patients for over twenty-five years. Our office serves the New Fairfield, New Milford, Danbury, and Sherman areas of CT and Pawling, Patterson and Putnam Lake of New York. You can call us at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment here.