Have you ever been near someone who chews gum noisily and in an annoying manner?
What were your thoughts?
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard over time that chewing gums aren’t healthy and they could
cause cavities in your teeth but what if I tell you not precisely?
Well, chewing gum is fun, sweet, and tasty. Your next question that comes to mind will be “is
chewing gum healthy?” The simple answer is yes and no depending on what type of gum
you choose to chew.
The American Dental Association (ADA) conceives that sugar-free or sugarless gum helps to
prevent tooth decay.
It’s surprising to know but chewing gum can be a very handy weapon to keep your teeth
strong, your breath fresh, and your mouth free of the acids and bacteria that lead to dental
What are chewing gums?
Gums according to Wikipedia are soft, rubbery, cohesive substances meant for chewing
without being swallowed.
Chewing gum is composed of gum base, sweeteners, flavors, colors, softeners, and a hard
or powdered polyol coating.
Sugar-coated vs Sugar-free chewing gums.
As the name implies, we have two major types of chewing gum; Sugar containing and sugar-
Firstly, it’s very important to choose the right type of chewing gum. Hence, you’ll be doing
more damage than good to your oral cavity. Look for a seal of approval from the ADA.
Avoid sugary varieties of gum at all costs, as this will just contribute to the amount of sugar
in your mouth, putting you at risk of tooth decay and acid attacks.
The sugar-free varieties will give you all the benefits without putting your oral health at risk.
How sugar-free gums help to protect your teeth;
So, now you have your packet of sugar-free chewing gum, you might be wondering how
chewing on this can help keep your oral cavity healthy.
The act of chewing will help create more saliva in your mouth especially if you chew on it
shortly after finishing a meal or snack. This action removes any food debris.
Reducing the sugar content, acid, and bacteria in your oral cavity will help to prevent the
formation of plaque, calculus, cavities, and tooth decay.
Mostly, some sugar-free chewing gum is sweetened with a sweetener known as xylitol.
There are other sweeteners like mannitol, sorbitol, sucralose, aspartame, maltitol etc.
The minty flavor is an added benefit.
What is Xylitol?
This is a naturally occurring sweetener with several health benefits including helping to keep
your oral cavity clean.
Xylitol is useful in the prevention of the growth of streptococcus mutants; one of the bacteria
in the mouth that causes cavities when xylitol is present.
The mechanism of action is that the bacteria loses its ability to adhere to the tooth, impeding
the cavity formation process.
This means a lesser amount of bad bacteria will survive on the outer surface of your teeth.
Combined with the beneficial effects of extra saliva production, this can help keep your
mouth in optimum health condition.
Chewing gum is not a replacement for brushing teeth.
Chewing sugar-free gums can be an aid to your daily dental routine, but should not replace
brushing and flossing.
If you cannot brush your teeth immediately after a meal which is understandable, chewing
gum can help in the eradication of the harmful bacteria on your teeth’ surface until you can
properly brush your teeth, but it doesn’t reach in between your teeth just as flossing does.
Although chewing sugarless gum can help your teeth clean in the short term but there is no
substitute for brushing and flossing your teeth every day.
In addition to taking care of your teeth by maintaining good everyday dental hygiene
practices, seeing your Dentist and Dental therapist twice a year for oral examination will help
keep your mouth healthy by preventing more severe issues
Health Benefits of Chewing Gum
There are several health benefits that go beyond the oral cavity.
Stimulate salivary glands: chewing sugarless gum after meals help maintain oral
health by keeping your teeth fresh and clean with increased saliva flow that washes
away food debris.
- Strengthens immune system: according to clinical research, the single act of chewing improves your immune system by promoting the formation of T-helper cells which fights dental infections and cavities.
- Fight sleepiness: when you feel tired, chew some gum to keep you alert and active.
- Losing weight: you can burn 11 calories per hour when you chew gum.
If you’ve read this article up till this point, you will be convinced that chewing sugarless or
sugar-free gum is very beneficial to your oral health.
Always look out for ADA-approved gums!
Associate Author: Eunice Okoro