Is Chewing Gum Bad for your Teeth?

Royal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Chewing gum is a popular choice for freshening your breath on the go. Adults and kids alike enjoy chewing gum. But you may be wondering, is chewing gum good for your teeth? Detroit TMJ dentist, Dr. Nancy Hartrick, is here to explain whether it’s safe to chew gum, and when you shouldn’t.

There are different types of gum available – bubble gum, mint-flavored gum, sugar-filled, and sugar-free. Certain brands of gum bear the ADA seal of approval. What does this mean? Unless it contains Xylitol, a sugar substitute proven to reduce cavities, the gum likely contains sugar, which increases the risk of cavities. This doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy a piece of bubble gum every so often. But, you should limit how often and for how long you chew sugar-laden gum because the more often you expose your teeth to sugar, the more likely you are to develop tooth decay. However, this does not mean that chewing Xylitol gum replaces normal oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing daily. But, it could be helpful in a pinch, and it is better than nothing!

Chewing gum may not be a good idea if you are dealing with jaw joint pain or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Bite misalignment means that your teeth are not coming together appropriately, causing stress and strain on your jaw joints, causing chronic or intermittent pain that may radiate from the jaw joints to the head and the neck. If you suffer from TMJ disorder, chewing gum likely will make your discomfort worse.

Who shouldn’t chew gum

Patients with space maintainers, TMJ disorder, braces, temporary fillings, or crowns should not chew gum. Doing so could damage the restorations,  oral appliances, or aggravate jaw joint disorder. If you have braces, gum could become intertwined within the brackets and wires. Furthermore, hard-shelled bubble gum could shatter temporary fillings or crowns, resulting in additional costs for your dental care. If you are prone to cavities, you should ensure you chew sugar-free gum only.

If you are not sure whether you should chew gum, speak with your Detroit area family dentist.

Tips for chewing gum safely

Stick to chewing gum that contains Xylitol. If you chew gum that contains sugar, just do so sparingly, and be sure to brush your teeth as soon as possible to remove residual sugar. Cavities don’t necessarily develop due to immediate sugar exposure. Instead, it’s repeatedly exposing your teeth to sugar that leads to tooth decay. Discontinue chewing gum if you experience dental pain or jaw joint pain. The consistent chewing could irritate the jaw joint nerves and muscles. 

Another way to maintain fresh breath between meals is to brush your teeth two to three times a day, or after eating. Be sure to floss to remove food particles and bacteria that cause bad breath. You could also carry sugar-free mints if you are unable to tolerate chewing gum, and aren’t able to brush your teeth immediately after eating.

General Dentist in Royal Oak, Detroit

To learn more ways to protect your oral health or schedule an evaluation, please call Hartrick Dentistry at (248) 549-0950. Our Detroit area family dentist, Dr. Hartrick, welcomes patients of Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan.

Posted in General Dentistry