Gum has been popular since the time of the ancient Greeks. Greeks chewed the mastiche tree sap. The Ancient Mayans, on the other hand, chewed chicle from the sapodilla’s wood and fruit as a gum. European settlers that came to New England chewed spruce sap after the Native Americans introduced it to them.
Now, humans have come a long way from the tree sap. And whether packaged in a big round ball, a five-stick pack or bubble tape, gum is still a childhood favourite, and the combination of the sweetness, stickiness, messiness and the noise is irresistible to many.
People, however, should be concerned about how chewing gum affects the teeth.
Gum Affects Oral Health Negatively and Positively
Chewing gum can be good AND bad for the teeth — depending on the type and the sweetener it used. Gum sweetened with sugar creates a good environment for tooth decay to thrive. It reacts with the bacteria in dental plaque, producing enamel-eroding acids. When the tooth enamel wears away due to the acid, holes in the teeth, called cavities, form.
Gum sweetened with sugar can especially do some significant damage because it does not dissolve. Instead, it is pressed against the teeth longer than candy. Unidental recommends visiting a Stockport dentist to avoid further damage.
After a certain amount of time, the act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in the mouth. This helps clean the teeth by washing away debris and diminishes plaque acid, which is the culprit of tooth decay. Interestingly, the saliva transfers with it additional phosphate and calcium to aid in supporting tooth enamel.
Chewing Sugarless Gum or Xylitol Gum is the Best Choice
On the other hand, chewing sugarless gum — one sweetened by aspartame or sucralose — eliminates the first phase of chewing sugary gum mentioned above.
Gum sweetened with sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol, on the other hand, will fight the bacteria in the teeth. It provides all the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum, as well as the bacteria-fighting features of xylitol and sorbitol.
But of course, although chewing gum can be beneficial in most instances, it is not a replacement for the old-fashioned method for cleaning the teeth. Brushing and flossing, as well as making regular trips to the dentist, are still the best way to keep the teeth healthy and problem-free.