Chewing gum is not always looked upon as the most charming habit but the activity can also be beneficial. While it can definitely be annoying to watch or listen to someone else loudly chomping on their gum, there may be some benefits for dental and health.
It can help prevent tooth decay
Chewing sugarless, ADA-approved gum can help prevent cavities, which is still very common in children. The saliva flow from chewing has so many benefits for dental health, and xylitol, a sweetener used for some sugarless gum, helps decrease cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth and around the teeth.
Why saliva flow is important
The mouth has a ton of bacteria. Most of them are good or neutral and some of them bad. Everything your child eats goes in the mouth and some foods are treated as “snacks” by certain bad bacteria. Just as we grow by eating, bad bacteria can thrive on certain foods if they are exposed to it. Think of saliva as a natural rinse that can neutralize acid in certain foods and that helps to wash away colonies of bacteria as well.
Saliva is also an important part of the immune system as it contains minerals to strengthen teeth and immunoglobulins that fight off microbes your kids are exposed to from their mouth.
Chewing gum may also disrupt unhealthy snacking
Aside from gum’s benefits to teeth, it also contributes to a bigger picture of health. Older kids and teens prone to overeating may benefit from chewing gum instead of eating.
While chewing gum is not a tool for weight loss, chewing does trick the brain that you are eating. It helps satisfy the craving to eat, and keeps your child away from snacking outside of mealtime when food choices are often not as nutritious.
Friction and plaque removal
Chewing gum also has the mechanical rubbing and friction of gum against teeth that can help “brush” the teeth when we don’t have an opportunity to actually use a toothbrush.
Look for the ADA seal
Sugar containing gum will actually feed the bad bacteria and predispose teeth to cavity creation so we definitely do not advocate for chewing this type of gum. Look for ADA-approved chewing gumso you can rest assured you are consuming non-cavity causing sweeteners.
Brush and floss
Chewing gum doesn’t replace brushing and flossing to maintain dental health. Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to disrupt and remove food and plaque from between the teeth. And, of course, remember to see your pediatric dentist every 6 months for a check up!
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.