Chewing gum is often associated with fresh breath and a quick sugar fix, but did you know it can also have an impact on your oral health? From improving saliva production to preventing tooth decay, the benefits of chewing gum go beyond just satisfying a craving. However, not all chewing gums are created equal. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of chewing gums available and their effects on your teeth and overall oral hygiene. So grab a pack of your favorite chewing gum and let’s dive in!
Different types of chewing gums
Chewing gum is available in a variety of flavors and types. Some chewing gums contain sugar while others are sugar-free. Sugar-containing gums can increase the risk of tooth decay, as the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugars from the gum and produce acid that erodes tooth enamel.
On the other hand, sugar-free chewing gum has been found to have several oral health benefits. It stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids produced by bacteria in our mouths. Saliva also contains minerals such as calcium and phosphate that help strengthen teeth.
Other types of chewing gum include those with added ingredients like xylitol or fluoride. Xylitol has been shown to reduce plaque formation and prevent cavities, while fluoride helps protect teeth against decay.
When choosing a chewing gum, it’s important to read the label carefully to ensure you’re getting one that meets your oral health needs. If you’re unsure about what type of gum is right for you, consult with your dentist before making a purchase.
What are they made up of?
Chewing gum is usually made up of a combination of synthetic polymers, waxes, and resins. The exact ingredients vary depending on the brand/type of gum.
One common ingredient in chewing gum is polyisobutylene or butyl rubber. This gives the gum its elastic properties and allows it to stretch without breaking. Other commonly used polymers include polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and vinyl acetate-co-butyl acrylate-co-methyl methacrylate (VAM).
Waxes such as paraffin wax, microcrystalline wax, and beeswax are also used in chewing gum. This help to give the gum its smooth texture and prevent it from sticking to teeth.
Resins like rosin are added to improve the adhesiveness of chewing gum by making it stickier. Flavorings, sweeteners such as sugar or artificial sweeteners like xylitol or sorbitol, and softeners like glycerin or vegetable oil can also be found in different types of gums.
Each manufacturer has their own unique recipe for making chewing gum that includes various combinations of these ingredients with varying levels depending on flavor preferences and other factors that may impact production costs among others
Benefits of chewing gum
Chewing gum has been around for centuries, and it’s not just a fun treat to freshen your breath. There are actually quite a few benefits to chewing gum, especially when it comes to oral health.
Firstly, chewing sugar-free gum can help increase saliva production in the mouth. Saliva is crucial for neutralizing acid and washing away harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay and bad breath.
Secondly, chewing gum with xylitol has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities by inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Xylitol also helps remineralize tooth enamel and prevents plaque buildup.
Thirdly, some studies have even found that chewing gum can aid digestion by increasing stomach acid secretion and helping alleviate symptoms like heartburn or reflux.
While chewing gum should never replace proper dental hygiene practices like brushing twice daily and flossing regularly, it can certainly be beneficial as an occasional addition to your routine.
Drawbacks of chewing gum
While there are many benefits to chewing gum, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks as well. One of the main concerns is that regular gum contains sugar, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities if not properly cleaned from teeth. This is because bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and produce acid that erodes tooth enamel.
Another issue with chewing gum is that it can contribute to jaw problems, such as TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder. This occurs when excessive chewing causes strain on the joint connecting your jawbone to your skull. Symptoms include pain, clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing your mouth, headaches, and even earaches.
Additionally, some people may experience digestive issues due to swallowing air while chewing gum. This can cause bloating, gas or stomach discomfort.
Those who have dental work such as braces or dentures should avoid certain types of gum as they could damage their dental appliances.
While these drawbacks shouldn’t deter you from enjoying a piece of gum every now and then (especially sugar-free options), it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re consuming and any potential risks associated with it.
Best time to have sugar-free chewing gum
When it comes to chewing gum, timing is key. While sugar-free gum can provide benefits for your oral health, it’s important to choose the right time to chew.
One of the best times to chew sugar-free gum is after a meal. Chewing gum helps stimulate saliva production which can neutralize harmful acids in your mouth and wash away food particles that may be stuck between teeth.
Another great time to have some chewing gum is before an event where you want fresh breath. Gum can mask odors caused by foods like garlic or coffee, making sure you’re not self-conscious about bad breath during important moments.
However, it’s important to avoid chewing gum excessively throughout the day as this can lead to jaw discomfort and muscle fatigue. Stick with one or two pieces at a time and try not to exceed six pieces per day.
Ultimately, incorporating sugar-free chewing gum into your routine at appropriate times can help promote good oral health while keeping your breath minty fresh!
How many chewing gums are ok to have?
One of the most commonly asked questions about chewing gum is, “How many are okay to have?” While there isn’t a set number that works for everyone, it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re consuming.
It’s recommended that individuals chew sugar-free gum as an alternative to sugary snacks. A good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to one or two pieces at a time and no more than six in total throughout the day.
Chewing too much gum can lead to jaw discomfort and even headaches. Additionally, some types of chewing gum contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol which can cause digestive issues if consumed in excess.
Another factor to consider when determining how much gum is enough is your overall oral health. If you’re experiencing any dental problems or sensitivity, it may be best to avoid excessive chewing altogether.
While chewing sugar-free gum can provide benefits for your oral health, moderation is key. Be conscious of how frequently you’re reaching for a piece and listen to your body’s signals if it starts causing discomfort.
In summary, chewing gum can have both positive and negative effects on your oral health. Choosing the right type of gum, such as sugar-free options that contain xylitol, can help stimulate saliva production and prevent tooth decay. However, excessive chewing or using sugary gums can lead to jaw discomfort and further dental problems.
It’s also important to remember that chewing gum should never be a substitute for proper oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing regularly. Chewing gum should be used as an additional tool in promoting good oral health.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine whether incorporating chewing gum into your daily routine is beneficial for your teeth and overall well-being. By being mindful of the ingredients in your chosen brand of chewing gum and practicing moderation, you can enjoy the benefits while minimizing any potential drawbacks.