Here are some fun facts to start your day: this year alone, about 200,000 pounds of chewing gum will be produced. If each piece is chewed for at least 30 minutes, that adds up to about 187 BILLION hours of gum-chewing just in 2019! Needless to say, there is a lot of gum chewing going on around the world, but is this a good thing? Could this common treat be harming your oral health? Today, a dentist addresses a question many have asked, but none have answered: “Is gum chewing bad for my teeth in Marshall?”
And the Verdict is…
…it depends! Like all things that have to do with health, there is a litany of factors that can make chewing gum good or bad for someone’s teeth. The primary one is the type of gum a person regularly chews. Is it packed with sugar, sugar-free, or contain xylitol (a substitute sweetener)?
Chewing gum that contains regular sugar can indeed be harmful to the teeth. Even after the flavor is gone, the teeth are constantly being exposed to sugar that can settle on the enamel and lead to cavities. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that chewing increases saliva production, which helps clean the mouth. But, if someone has a piece or two every single day, more cavities are likely to pop up at their routine dental appointments.
Instead, dentists would recommend that people chew sugar-free or xylitol gum instead. The lack of sugar means that the harmful bacteria in the mouth won’t be given fuel to grow and multiply, and thanks to the increase in saliva we touched on above, chewing these kinds of gum can actually be beneficial for someone’s oral health. In fact, if you’ve just eaten and you’re unable to brush right away, popping in some sugar-free gum is a great alternative to give your mouth a quick cleaning.
What if Someone Has Dentures?
It’s perfectly alright for denture wearers to chew gum, but avoiding sugar is even more important. The sugar from gum can easily become trapped between a denture and a person’s gum line, leading to an increase in the bacteria that causes periodontal disease. It’s also vital that those with dentures avoid especially chewy, sticky, or hard gums as they could potentially damage their prosthetic. A good rule of thumb is to stick to sticks!
When NOT to Chew Gum
So are there some people out there who shouldn’t chew gum at all even if it’s sugar-free? Yes. If a person regularly experiences jaw pain and stiffness, then they may have a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. This concerns dysfunction in the joint that connects the lower jaw to the rest of the head. Someone dealing with this kind of issue should consult their dentist in Marshall and refrain from chewing any gum until the problem has been resolved.
There is literally an endless variety of gums available, so do your smile a favor and be sure to pick the sugar-free kind! That way, you can enjoy a nice treat and actively fight cavities at the same time.
About the Author
Dr. Charles Parker is a dentist in Marshall that has been serving patients in East Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas for more than 30 years. He is recognized as the denture and dental implant expert in the area, so if you’re ready to replace any missing teeth so you can enjoy a nice piece of gum again, he’ll be able to provide exactly what you need. To contact Dr. Parker, he can be reached through his website.