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The Good and Bad of Gum Chewing

October 20, 2016
By Kristine C. Rosenthal, DDS
Park Dental Elk River

Since it first aired nationwide in the 1970s, millions of Americans have heard Trident chewing gum’s claim that “four out of five dentists surveyed would recommend Trident for their patients who chew gum.” That’s a little bit of a deceptive claim. What this clever marketing ploy really means is that 4 out of 5 dentists would recommend sugar-free gum, like Trident, over sugared gum, if their patients insist on chewing gum.

Is Gum Good for your Teeth?

Interestingly, many dentists, including myself, do not recommend our patients chew gum. While I must admit that gum has its positive aspects, the costs outweigh any benefits, making it a detrimental habit.

Although I do find Trident’s advertisement to be misleading, they are correct when they describe how chewing gum does have some advantages. First, it does a great job of freshening your breath. This can be absolutely essential during work meetings and dates, especially if you do not have the ability to brush your teeth beforehand. Gum also stimulates the production of saliva, which cleanses your teeth and acts as a buffer to neutralize acid in your mouth. Finally, gum tastes good! This can satisfy people’s sweet tooth and prevent them from eating other candy or desserts.

That being said, consistently chewing gum is much more costly than the price per pack suggests. To begin, it can be very annoying and distracting to those around you if you’re prone to snapping or popping your gum. Many do not find this aesthetically pleasing. Second, frequent gum chewing can cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems and enamel depletion. This leaves your teeth increasingly vulnerable to cavities. Finally, sugared gum is known to contribute to tooth decay, while some sugar-free gum contains aspartame, a potential carcinogen. Overall, these negatives outweigh the positives, in my opinion.

Nonetheless, I am sure many of you will continue to chew gum. If so, I advise you to choose anything that is sugar-free or with xylitol, which can prevent dental cavities. And if you’re worried about your breath, bring a travel toothbrush and toothpaste instead to keep your mouth smelling fresh.

If you have any other specific questions regarding gum and oral health, please stop by a nearby Park Dental office. My colleagues and I would love to address your questions and help you maintain optimum oral health.

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