Is Gum Good for Your Teeth?

gum picDon’t tell the school teachers, but YES! 

Two ways chewing gum can aid in the cleaning of teeth:  1)  Gum actually mechanically cleans teeth as you chew, and 2) Gum acts to promote saliva which can decrease the bacteria, decrease acidity, and remineralize teeth. 

So, let me back up – Bacteria in the mouth produces lactic acid which causes a demineralization (cavity) of enamel – and gum helps fight all three!

But, here’s the catch – it needs to be sugarless gum, not the Big League Chew that we all love and enjoy.  Gum with natural sugar DOES help mechanically clean teeth and DOES help promote saliva which fights bacteria, reduces acid, and adds minerals to teeth – BUT, if you’re constantly providing the SOURCE of tooth decay, then you’re fighting a no-win battle.  So, for review – Bacteria use sugar to produce the acid which causes the cavity.  Take out the sugar, and the process comes to a halt (for the most part). 

Sugarless gum uses sugar-free sweetners, such as Xylitol, that can NOT be broken down by bacteria.  So, we remove the bacterial source for causing tooth decay, and we regain our win-win relationship! 

Another popular sugar-free sweetner is Sorbitol.  Sorbitol, when consumed in large amounts, can act as a laxative causing chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss.  One lady learned this the hard way – After stumping physicians with her excessive weight loss and stomach pain, they finally realized that she had been chewing 15 – 18 sticks of gum per day – the sorbitol was the culprit!  So, if gum containing sorbitol is your thing, consume responsibly.

What gum do you recommend?

My favorite is Trident Xtra Care (and I get no money for saying that).  Trident Xtra Care is the first sugarless (xylitol) gum to have the ingredient Recaldent, i.e.,  ACP-CPP (amorphous calcium phosphate-casien phosphopeptides).  Recaldent is a mixture of milk proteins, phosphate, and calcium, which penetrate the tooth to help remineralize (see above) weakened enamel.  You can’t chew too much, and it’s lactose-free.  We use a stronger solution of Recaldent at Greystone Smile Design to treat white spots (decalcification) and sensitivity – and have had awesome results!  See an example of remineralization combined with teeth whitening. 

Does “whitening gum” really whiten teeth?

The answer is – it depends.  It depends on the types of stains that you are trying to remove; it depends on your expectations; it depends on your age and the porosity of your teeth; it depends on how much you chew.  It depends!  Most manufacturers recommend chewing 6-8 pieces per day for 3-4 weeks in combination with your daily oral care regimen to get the best results.  These can work well with surface stains and may even prevent some stains from forming.  So, the answer is really yes – whitening gum CAN whiten teeth, and if your teeth don’t get as white as you wanted, you are still getting all the other benefits discussed earlier. 

What if my jaw hurts when I chew?

Jaw soreness from gum chewing is usually related to overactive muscles.  Jaw muscles may be fatigued from excessive forces from chewing or may be caused by grinding which can exacerbate the issue.  But don’t worry – we can treat it!  It may be as simple as wearing a nightguard at night or reshaping (minimal) the teeth so they come together more efficiently.  You can read the article on Bite Therapy for more information.

In summary, sugarless gum is great for teeth, and probably the next best thing to brushing.  But, if your teacher asks, you didn’t hear it from me!

Related Articles:

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The Most Effective Teeth Whitening Technique Ever Known!