Gum Chewing: Is It Just Another Bad Habit?
Chewing gum is a habit that has been under debate among dentists for decades. Since the invention of the concept in ancient times, gum itself has come a long way. What used to be a purely sticky, sugary substance has become a common after-meal breath freshener and everyday sweet. Though we’ve long been taught not to swallow our gum, there are several opinions on whether or not it’s okay for our teeth.
Does it do us any good after a meal?
Mint varieties of chewing gum have quickly become a popular substitute for a post-meal peppermint. Not only can gum freshen breath, it also stimulates saliva production. The chewing motion activates the salivary glands and helps lubricate the food in your mouth. This saliva can also wash away lingering food particles from your teeth. That’s one benefit of chewing gum right after a meal. But most importantly, that saliva neutralizes any acids in the mouth that may damage tooth enamel.
Why this habit might not be so great on your jaw.
Just like grinding your teeth can stress out your jaw, so can chewing that piece of gum. Our jaws are designed to chew food in small amounts. Any unnecessary motion tires the jaw more easily and potentially cause joint pain. Even if you don’t suffer from TMJ disorder, which leads to increased jaw pain, be careful. Frequently chewing gum gradually wears down the joint and can lead to problems down the road. Take this into consideration, especially if you already experience pain in your jaw or moderate to severe bruxism.
What does the American Dental Association say?
Experts say the most important thing to look for is the amount of sugar in your gum-and, of course, the ADA Seal of Approval. The only chewing gums that earn this seal are sugarless. Putting extra sugar on your teeth increases your risk of tooth decay. However there are several brands of sugarless gum that fit the bill. If chewing that gum isn’t a habit you can kick, at least make sure you’re not putting your oral health at risk. If you’re unsure of whether or not it’s okay for you to keep up this habit, as Dr. Carter for a personalized evaluation at your next appointment!
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