Does Chewing Gum Really Prevent Cavities?

Northampton Dental blog

Sugar-free gum was introduced in the 1950s as a healthier option for enjoying this tasty habit. Today, advertisements can be found almost everywhere you look promoting that chewing gum can actually help to prevent cavities from forming on the teeth. If that is too hard to believe, keep reading.

The mouth is a complex system that is home to millions of bacteria. These bacteria thrive on the small particles left behind after you eat or drink anything other than water. The bacteria go to work to break down these particles, but in their endeavors, they actually do more harm than good. As the bacteria work to get rid of food and sugar particles, they begin to produce acids to aid them. Oral acids, just like all other acids, are notorious for eating their way through whatever is in their path. In the context of your oral health, this would be your tooth enamel.

Chewing gum helps to promote the production of saliva. Saliva is a necessary factor of oral health because it helps to wash away bacteria from the teeth. When the mouth is consistently dry, bacteria harden on the teeth. This leaves the tooth enamel at a constant assault from acid-producing bacteria because there is not enough saliva to keep the teeth moist. Chewing gum when the mouth is dry, and chewing gum for twenty minutes after eating, can both help to prevent cavities and tooth decay.

Of course, it is important to note that not all chewing gum is created equally. For cavity protection, you must choose sugar-free gum. Chewing gum made with sugar only promotes cavity production because you are willingly inviting sugar into the mouth. Oral bacteria are most attracted to sugar particles, and they will congregate in large numbers to break down even the smallest amount of sugar. This leaves the teeth incredibly vulnerable to the quick onset of assault by acid.

At Northampton Dental, we know that many of our patients are avid gum chewers. We encourage those who have healthy jaws to chew away – as long as they are choosing a gum that prevents cavities. Contact our practice today for a recommendation of the best sugar-free gum options, or to schedule an appointment. We are here for all of your oral health needs.