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To Chew or Not to Chew: Your Cincinnati Dentist Answers the Gum Question

Let’s double your pleasure and answer millenials’ most pressing question for Cincinnati dentists: Is chewing gum good or horrible for teeth?

The short answer? It depends on the type of gum. Chewing sugar gum, especially on a regular (let’s admit, compulsive) basis, will definitely increase your chance of cavities. All that sweetness is a sugar gum drop feast for the bacteria that causes cavities. (Fun fact: Plaque is actually “the poop” released by these bacteria. Doesn’t that make you want to brush reguarly?)

Why Sugar Free Gum Can Be Awesome

But there is plenty of evidence that chewing sugar free gum does exactly the opposite. And chewing sugar-free gum that is sweetened with xylitol can do wonders for your teeth. Aren’t you glad you asked?

The beauty of sugar free gum is it encourages saliva. This gives your teeth a bath, rinsing off and neutralizing the acid released by plaque making bacteria. This acid eats away tooth enamel. Chewing and the gum flavor stimulates 10 times the normal amount of saliva flow. In addition to rising away damaging acids, that boost in saliva also rinses away extra food particles. Every piece of gum you chew is like a car wash for your mouth. But again, chewing sugar free gum is critical, since sugar gum will only feed the plaque causing bacteria and riddle your mouth with cavities.

Why Xylitol Sugar Free Gum is Like Superman for Your Mouth

Sugar free gum sweetened with xylitol does your mouth two favors: Not only does gum naturally increase your saliva, but the xylitol naturally inhibits Streptococcus mutans, one of the oral bacteria that cause cavities. In fact, in the presence of xylitol, that nasty bacteria can’t even stick to your tooth. The presence of xylitol overtime will cause the bacteria in your mouth to change overtime as cavity causing germs are killed and only healthy bacteria remains.

Some Exceptions

Nevertheless, there are some conditions where chewing sugar free gum (even if it contains xylitol) is not recommended. If you suffer from temporomandibular disorder symptoms (TMD/TMJ) or have jaw pain, you should probably not chew gum. Talk to your Cincinnati family dentist about what they’d recommend. Perhaps they could suggest some alternatives.

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