Is chewing gum beneficial for my oral health?

Everyone chews gum. You may well have enjoyed a stick of it yourself from time to time! Likewise, you may have heard more than a few of the myths often associated with it, like the idea that it stays in your stomach for seven years for example (which isn’t true, by the way). One of the other most prevalent rumours though, is that it could be good for your oral health. So, is it true?

Well, yes and no.

Chewing gum won’t ever be a viable replacement for properly cleaning your teeth, but sugar-free gum has many more oral benefits than just keeping your breath minty fresh. In fact, it can help reduce tooth decay, neutralise acids and stimulate saliva production, helping to wash away any harmful bacteria that weakens your enamel.

As experts in a wide range of dental treatments here at AP Smilecare, we know all about the ways in which some types of chewing gum can be beneficial for your teeth – so here are some of the biggest ones!

Keep your breath fresh

We’re starting with perhaps the most well-known reason people choose to chew gum – for fresh breath! Most types of chewing gum are specifically formulated to taste of mint (and smell like it too). What’s more, chewing gum keeps your saliva glands stimulated, which ensures that food debris and bacteria are kept at bay. This, in turn, keeps your breath fresh and your teeth happy.

As we’ve touched on above, it’s obviously no substitute for brushing twice a day, but it certainly isn’t doing your oral health any harm providing you stick to a sugar free chewing gum.

Prevent tooth erosion

Particularly sweet or acidic foods can wear away at the enamel of our teeth, which can ultimately erode them if they’re not given the proper care. That can be painful – and permanent.

Happily, the human body has several natural defences against tooth erosion. Saliva is one of the most prominent (and effective). It helps neutralise those harmful particularly acidic foods we eat, particularly in citrusy and sugary foods. Chewing sugar free gum can further facilitate the production of saliva, which in turn neutralises even more acids. All chewing gum does this to a certain degree, but sugar-free chewing gum is more helpful in the fight against tooth decay than its sugary counterpart.

One of the ways you can make the most of this helpful benefit is by choosing a gum that uses Xylitol as a sweetener. Xylitol neutralises the acid in your mouth by increasing the pH of your saliva so it keeps your teeth healthy and your breath minty – a win-win if you ask us!

Combat dry mouth

We all know it; we all hate it. Often the result of dehydration, dry mouth (or xerostomia, to use the technical name) occurs when the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva. It can also manifest as a side effect of anxiety or nervousness.

Now, we should say that experiencing dry mouth occasionally is relatively harmless. However, if IT persists for long enough, it can cause oral health complications such as tooth decay or fungal infections. Chronic dry mouth increases the likelihood of tooth decay because our saliva helps keep harmful bacteria under control. Saliva also provides our teeth with important minerals like calcium and phosphate, so without them, it can leave teeth vulnerable to decay. Luckily – you guessed it – a stick of sugar free gum can be helpful in serving as a useful short-term measure.

Reduce stress levels and improve focus

And now for something a bit left-of-field – chewing gum also has some surprising emotional and mental benefits too, albeit quite small ones. The behavioural effects of chewing gum have been studied for some 80 years, and much of this research has proven that gum helps reduce anxiety and cortisol levels (the stress hormone) within the body. Reports from the Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology at Cardiff University and The British Psychological Society have also suggested that chewing gum can enhance your concentration – the methodical act of chewing on a piece of gum can help you better concentrate on your tasks and amplify your ability to focus.

Obviously, chewing gum is in no way a substitute for regular brushing and dental check ups – and that’s where we come in! Here at AP Smilecare, we’re passionate about taking care of your oral health with top tier dental treatments, and we have a long history of helping our patients to love their smile. So if you have any questions, concerns or queries – or you want to book an appointment – get in touch with our friendly team via 01254 297 000 or pop into our Blackburn clinic and we’ll be more than happy to see how we can help you achieve your best smile.