The oldest known piece of chewing gum is 9000 years old, and various cultures across the globe and throughout time have been chewing it ever since. Some chewed on sweetened tree resin, while others chewed on waxy plants. Whatever the ingredients are, one thing is clear, people love chewing gum.
Although gum flavored with actual sugar is well known to be harmful for your teeth, there is some debate over whether or not sugarless gum is all right. At New Albany Implants, we like to stay informed on issues related to dentistry, and we want to keep you informed, as well.
Here are some things to consider about chewing gum:
Chew After Meals
It is a myth that chewing sugarless gum before meals will decrease your appetite so you will eat less and lose weight. In fact, according to several clinical studies, chewing gum for twenty minutes after a meal will decrease your chances of tooth decay. The extra post-meal chewing increases the amount of saliva in your mouth. The chewing motion along with the saliva cleans away and neutralizes the harmful acids that eat away at your enamel, ultimately causing tooth decay.
Many brands of sugarless gum is sweetened with a plant derivative called xylitol, which has been shown to have properties that prevent tooth decay. It keeps plaque from sticking to your teeth and causing decay. There is also evidence that xylitol remineralizes tooth enamel, which means it rebuilds weakened enamel by replacing deficient calcium.
Don’t think that chewing sugarless gum is any sort of replacement for brushing and flossing, because it’s not. Chewing gum after a meal is just a boost of protection between brushing. Also, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Approval. This will let you know that the gum is not flavored with anything that will cause cavities.
Avoid Chewing Gum Before Meals
As we mentioned before, there is little evidence to suggests that chewing gum before a meal will make you eat less. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that chewing gum before a meal will influence you to make unhealthy food choices. Studies have that people who chew gum before a meal tend to skip over the healthy fruit and straight to salty chips and greasy hamburgers. This likely has to do with fact that most gums are mint flavored, and the mint makes the fruit taste unpleasant and bitter. this prompts people to go for the junk food instead.
Contributes to TMJ
A downside to chewing gum is that it has been linked to TMJ, temporomandibular joint, pain. However, not in a highly significant way. It is certainly true that excessive gum chewing can cause pain in your jaw and even a headache, but true TMJ disorder is more that just a sore jaw. More often than not, the pain and discomfort associated with chewing gum is because it is exacerbating a condition that already exists, not causing it.
Chewing Gum and Dental Work
It should go without saying that chewing gum is sticky, and anything that is sticky can be trouble for fillings, crowns, and bridges, especially if they it’s dental work you have had for a few years. Chewing gum should not be that big of a problem for your dental work unless it is already showing signs of wear and tear. Crowns and fillings can come loose and need to be replaced, so if you know that is the case, you may want to lay off the gum. However, if your dental work is secure and you have no reason to suspect that it is loosening, then chewing sugarless gum shouldn’t be much of a problem
Moderation Is the Key
Like most things in life, the real problems from chewing gum only seem to arise when it is chewed excessively. Moderate gum chewing, especially after meals, can actually have a very good effect on your oral health.
So if you enjoy chewing gum, just don’t do it all day, every day. Make it a treat and you will get more enjoyment and dental benefits from it.
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