We all know that gum can be bad for you. Sugar containing gum actually increases our risk for tooth decay. Cavities that develop from chronic gum chewing often are not very noticeable in plain view. A small hole will be evident on the tooth enamel, but when an x-ray is taken, half of the tooth is “bombed out” on the inside. This type of decay is unique to gum chewing. Even when excellent oral hygiene habits are in place, frequent gum chewing continues to cause decay of the teeth. (i)
Now there are now chewing gums available that have the sweetener Xylitol. Xylitol containing gums have actually been shown to reduce tooth decay and encourage enamel remineralization.(ii) Further studies show that chewing a gum with Xylitol encourages healthier gums, reduces bleeding, and decreases harmful bacteria.(iii) For patients who are actively fighting gum disease and recurrent tooth decay, chewing these gums may be beneficial to their oral health.
According to the American Dental Association, chewing gum may also be beneficial for patients with dry mouth. Medications and certain medical conditions are a common cause of dry mouth. Radiation therapy may also be the culprit, as it can destroy the salivary glands within the mouth. When there is no saliva to cleanse the teeth on a normal basis, decay becomes rampant. Xylitol containing gum promotes salivary production and can help decrease the decay rate. Dry mouth can also be very uncomfortable, and salivary supplements that don’t damage your teeth are extremely important. While the old school of thought might have been to suck on a peppermint, we know this is not the healthiest option for our teeth. Within just 5 to 10 minutes of chewing gum, saliva production will peak.(iv) Chewing a Xylitol gum may be a good option to decrease the dental consequences and discomfort of dry mouth.
Research indicates that chewing gum containing Xylitol can be beneficial to dental health. Check the labels of different brands of chewing gum. You’ll be able to see on the front side of the package, usually in the corner, whether or not Xylitol is an ingredient. Brands like Orbit and Trident use this sweetener in most all of their products. If you or your children enjoy chewing gum, the American Dental Association recommends that you choose gum that contains Xylitol.
It is important to have routine dental hygiene cleaning and preventative oral health care. Please call McCarl Dental Group, dentists in Greenbelt MD 301-474-4144 or Millersville MD 410-987-8800 to schedule an appointment. Visit McCarl Dental Group at https://www.mccarldental.com/preventive-dentistry.html
(i) Paice EM, Vowles RW, West NX, Hooper SM.; The erosive effects of saliva following chewing gum on enamel and dentine: an ex vivo study.; Br Dent J. 2011 Feb 12;210(3):E3.
(ii) Chewing gum and dental health. Literature review. ; Rev Belge Med Dent (1984). 1992;47(3):67-92.
(iii) Campus G, Cagetti MG, Cocco F, Sale S, Sacco G, Strohmenger L, Lingström P.; Effect of a Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Containing Magnolia Bark Extract on Different Variables Related to Caries and Gingivitis: A Randomized Controlled Intervention Trial.; Caries Res. 2011 Aug 3;45(4):393-399
(iv) Olsson H, Spak CJ, Axéll T.; The effect of a chewing gum on salivary secretion, oral mucosal friction, and the feeling of dry mouth in xerostomic patients.; Acta Odontol Scand. 1991 Oct;49(5):273-9.