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Chewing Gum and Oral Health

Chewing gum is a popular pastime enjoyed by people of all ages. However, there is conflicting information when it comes to your oral health. Does chewing gum hurt or help your teeth? With the right information, you can decide whether you should include chewing gum in your routine. 

Chewing Gum and Oral Health

The Pros of Chewing Gum

You may not realize it, but chewing gum actually has several benefits for your oral health. 

Stimulates Saliva Production

One of the most significant benefits of chewing gum is its ability to stimulate saliva production. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by washing away food particles and neutralizing acids in the mouth. Increased saliva flow can also help protect against tooth decay and gum disease by keeping the mouth clean and hydrated.

Freshens Breath

Many chewing gums have flavorings and breath fresheners that can help mask bad breath and leave your mouth feeling clean and refreshed. Chewing gum after meals or snacks can help get rid of food odors and keep your breath smelling pleasant throughout the day.

Promotes Tooth Remineralization

Some chewing gums contain ingredients such as xylitol and calcium phosphate. These can help promote tooth remineralization and strengthen tooth enamel. Remineralization is the process by which minerals such as calcium and phosphate are deposited back into the enamel. As a result, this helps to repair and protect against tooth decay.

Reduces Acid Reflux Symptoms

Chewing gum can even help alleviate symptoms of acid reflux by stimulating saliva production and neutralizing stomach acid. The increased saliva flow can help wash away acid from the esophagus and throat. This can also reduce discomfort and protect against erosion of tooth enamel caused by acid reflux.

The Cons of Chewing Gum

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to chewing gum as well. 

Potential for TMJ Disorders

Excessive chewing gum consumption or chewing gum with excessive force can put a strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Over time, this can lead to TMJ disorders (TMD). Symptoms of TMD may include jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing or opening the mouth fully.

Some studies suggest frequent chewing gum consumption may be associated with an increased risk of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). TMD is a group of conditions affecting the TMJ and surrounding muscles, causing pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint.

Increased Risk of Dental Erosion

Chewing gum, especially sugary gum, can contribute to dental erosion if consumed frequently and in large quantities. Bacteria in the mouth will ferment the sugars in gum in the mouth, leading to the production of acids that can erode tooth enamel over time. Furthermore, it’s essential to choose sugar-free gum and chew it in moderation to minimize the risk of tooth decay.

Potential for Jaw Fatigue

Excessively chewing gum can lead to jaw fatigue and muscle soreness, especially if chewing gum for extended periods or with excessive force. Prolonged chewing can also strain the jaw muscles and lead to discomfort and fatigue.