We often say no to candies or chewing gum as we all consider them as the causative for tooth decay. But do you know, the hazards of chewing gum depends on what type of gum you chew?
The one which causes oral health hazards such as caries are the sugar-containing gums. Whereas, the sugar-free gum adds benefits to your oral health. So, you can chew gum as a stress buster and get bonus oral health benefits.
Sugar-free gums contain added sweeteners such as xylitol or sorbitol. Gums containing xylitol are proven to fight against caries and reduce bad breath (1).
Gum not only gives you clean teeth and fresh breath but also helps you to quit smoking. Although chewing gum helps in the maintenance of oral health, it does not replace the regular cleaning methods such as brushing and flossing.
But still, if you are wondering how the gum is useful for your oral health, then let us go through the complete article to know more about the wonders of chewing gum on your oral health and which gum you should go for.
How the gum protect your oral cavity?
Sugar-free gums are an effective way to clean your oral cavity. Gum achieve oral health by following methods.
1. Teeth protection
Chewing sugar-free gums proven to reduce the tooth decay. We often avoid chewing gum with the fear of getting caries in the tooth. The sugar content of gum promotes the growth of carious bacteria and leads to tooth decay.
But the studies say sugar-free gums are best when it comes to dental hygiene. Notably, the gum sweetened with xylitol is more effective. Xylitol is the naturally occurring sugar substitute used in gum. It acts in following the way to prevent the tooth decay.
- Xylitol prevents the tooth decay because mouth cannot convert the xylitol into acid which is known to cause decay.
- Xylitol is known to prevent the growth of Streptococcus mutans, which is one of the caries-causing bacteria. (2)
- Decay process starts when the harmful bacteria get to adhere to the tooth structure and slowly destroy the tooth. However, bacteria can not stick to the tooth in the presence of xylitol and reduces the tooth decay to a great extent.
The xylitol fights against tooth decay in various ways. Hence, chewing gum sweetened with xylitol is an effective way of protection against caries.
2. Reduce bad breath
We often chew mints to freshen up the breath. But have you ever realized that mints are not going to work on the root cause of bad breath? In a way, you are just covering the bad smell with flavored mints.
On the other side, chewing gum freshen your breath by fighting against the root cause of halitosis. Xylitol content in the gum restricts the growth of the bacteria that are responsible for bad breath.
So now onwards, you can better try replacing mints and start chewing sugar-free gums to get rid of bad breath.
3. Dental cleaning action
Chewing of sugar-free gum tends to clean the tooth surface and aids the cleaning action. Gum chewing also lessens the staining of your tooth caused due to smoking, drinking coffee, etc. Hence it helps to maintain the natural color of your teeth.
Bacteria produce the acid which causes decalcification of tooth structure. Chewing gum helps to wash out and neutralize the acid which is harmful to the tooth enamel. (3)
4. Increase saliva flow
Chewing of gum stimulates the salivary gland and increases the saliva flow (4). Increased saliva flow helps to wash off the food particles and debris from the mouth. Also, the anti-bacterial property of saliva helps to keep your mouth bacteria free.
You are likely to produce acid after the food breakdown. The acid then dissolves the mineral content of the tooth called ‘hydroxyapatite crystals’ causing the demineralization of enamel.
Saliva dilutes the acid produced post meal and reduces the acid attack. In this way, saliva prevents the tooth from erosion and caries. You are likely to prevent your teeth if you chew sugar-free gums just after meal and snacks for 20min.
Sugar-free gums are also useful in patients suffering from xerostomia. Xerostomia is the condition causing dry mouth which gets benefitted by increasing the salivary flow.
5. Hardens the enamel
Gums are known to harden the tooth structure as they contain a substance called casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP). This substance is known to remineralize the tooth enamel and make it stronger.
6. Helps you quit smoking
There are several nicotine gums available in the market which can help people to quit smoking. (5)
What type of gum should you chew?
By now you must have understood that health hazards of chewing gum depend on its contents. The sugar content of the gum provides the habitat for the production and growth of the bacteria.
Chewing of sugar-containing gum drastically increases the amount of plaque and bacteria. However, sugar-free gum is free of sugar and artificial sweetener, such as xylitol or sorbitol, is added to gum as a substitute of sugar.
These substitutes are tooth friendly and safe for consumption. Xylitol is antimicrobial and actively preserves oral health.
So, chewing gum is not a health problem until you know what kind of gum you should chew. However, gum Chewing is not recommended for people who are wearing orthodontic braces as it may stick to your braces and might result in its removal.
Chewing gum is beneficial to your health but only if it is sugarless. So, if you are habitual of chewing gums, then make a wise decision and choose sugar-free xylitol containing gums.
Chewing gums will help you to keep your mouth clean, caries free, bacteria free, etc. (6) But remember, sugar-free gum is not the magic bullet to fight against decay.
So, chewing gum should never replace the proper oral hygiene practice. You still need to brush and floss your teeth daily to preserve your oral health and also make a regular dental visit.