Your teacher may have scolded you about chewing gum when your were a kid, but as far as your teeth go, chewing gum may actually be good for them.
Thousands of years ago, ancient cultures used different types of chewing gums to help maintain oral health and freshness. Modern chewing gum is almost as American as baseball and apple pie, but the chewing gum we know today actually originated centuries ago in Mexico.
Historians credit Thomas Adams (1818-1905) with popularizing gums extracted from the Manilkara Chicle tree in Mexico. The indigenous peoples in the area of Santa Ana, Mexico chewed the tree gum for many generations. Adams brought the gum to North America and marketed it widely, adding sugar and flavoring ingredients such as peppermint and cinnamon.
Not all chewing gums are made equal
First, it’s important to know that not all chewing gum is healthy. The key to healthy chewing is using sugar free chewing gum. Chewing sugar added gum can promote dental decay, just as eating sugary candies and treats can, because sugar provides a breeding ground for bacteria.
Why sugarless chewing gum can be healthy for your teeth
Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes can help keep your teeth and mouth healthy. How is this possible? When you chew gum, your body reacts in beneficial ways.
The act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. This makes sense, because when you chew, your body senses that there’s a substance in your mouth that needs to be digested. So, your body triggers the release of saliva.
The saliva helps to rinse food particles and other substances from your teeth and mouth. Saliva also helps balance the pH in your mouth by counteracting or neutralizing the acidity that is produced by existing bacteria. It also contains other health protective substances, including phosphate and calcium, which may boost your oral health.
There are some other benefits to chewing gum: It can help you relax a bit, and freshen your breath, too. In fact, some people either chew gum instead of smoking cigarettes, or they utilize chewing gum to help them quit. Either way, it’s much better overall to chew gum than it is to use tobacco products.
What to look for in chewing gum
When you shop for chewing gum, make sure that it is sugar free. Specifically, look for the seal of approval from The American Dental Association (ADA) on the gum’s label.
You can trust that ADA-approved chewing gum meets all the criteria established to ensure its safety and effectiveness. When you use ADA seal stamped gum, you protect your health and safety and enjoy the beneficial effects of the product.
The next time you pop a piece of sugarless gum in your mouth, chew it for at least 20 minutes and feel good that this pleasurable habit is actually good for your teeth. Remember to dispose of any wrappers and used gum in a trash bin – no fair sticking it under your school desk!
Some people with dental bridges, crowns, braces, or other oral appliances should ask their dentist first before sticking to a normal gum chewing habit, just to be on the safe side. To learn more about what your dentist says about chewing gum and other habits that may affect your oral health, call Dedicated Dental at (702) 566-5509, or request an appointment online.