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    November 15, 2011

    Does chewing gum really reduce my risk of decay?

     

    Chewing Gum: Good or Bad?

    The only chewing gum that we should consider chewing is gum that contains no sugar. Any bubblegum or sugar-containing gum is bad for our oral health in many ways. This is also true for any other mint or sweet that contains sugar. This is because the continual release of sugars provides a rich source of food for the bacteria, allowing them to cause dental decay. Many of these bubblegums also contain food acids which also promote dental decay.

    Chewing gums that don't contain sugar are good in some ways, but do not replace the need for correct brushing or flossing.

    The greatest advantage of sugar-free gum is that it stimulates the release of saliva. This saliva can buffer acids in our mouth and provide our teeth with the goodies that keep them strong.  The artificial sweetner, Xylitol, also does reduce numbers of some strains of Streptococcus mutans, one of the bacteria associated with dental decay. Xylitol also has the effect of reducing S. mutans transmission to babies. However, its long-term benefits are a little hazy. Also, be aware that sugar-free gum usually contains Xylitol and consuming large quantities of xylitol can result in stomach upset and diarrohea.
    There is very little in the chewing gum itself that can help our teeth.

    The only exception to this is Recaldent Chewing Gum. Recaldent provides our teeth with enzymes, proteins, calcium, and phosphate which all help to reverse the effects erosion by acids on our teeth.

    There are disadvantages to any type of chewing gum, however, mainly through the extra forces that are applied to the teeth during constant chewing. If you have large fillings, then it is possible for teeth to be broken from this process. Also, if you suffer from any jaw-related complaints, such as headaches, muscle soreness, and clicking & popping, then the chewing can make this worse.

     
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