Chewing Gum Can Actually Be Good For Your Teeth!

"Spit that gum out! You're going to rot your teeth!" Did your mother ever yell those words at you when you were a child? If so, you're not alone. The myth that chewing gum is bad for your teeth is a pretty common one, so you might be surprised to hear the opposite. Yes, chewing gum can actually be good for your teeth – as long as you choose the right gum. Here's a closer look.

What kind of gum should you chew?

Your mom may have been right if the gum she made you spit out was a gumball or some other standard, sugar-flavored gum. The sugar in these gums does perpetuate tooth decay and gum disease. But sugar-free gum, which is really popular these days, is great for dental health. Brands like Trident and Dentyne have even named their gums to reflect this. ("Dent" refers to "dental."

What are the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum?

Increased saliva production.

Most of the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum can be traced back to increased saliva production. When you chew, your salivary glands are activated, releasing this liquid into the mouth. The constant flow of saliva rinses away oral bacteria which can cause tooth decay and gum disease, so they're not left to sit on the teeth for as long. So, chewing sugar-free gum can lead to fewer cavities and healthier gums that don't swell and bleed so easily.

You might also have better breath when you chew sugar-free gum often. This is not so much due to the mint or cinnamon flavor in the gum as you might assume. It's because the saliva is constantly washing away smelly oral bacteria instead of letting them congregate in your mouth and keep releasing their stinky odors.

Fewer problems with jaw clenching and tooth grinding.

So many people either clench their jaw or grind their teeth when they're stressed out. This can have terrible consequences for your dental health. It may cause your enamel to wear away and weaken, leading to decay. It may also cause you to chip a filling, and it can lead to jaw aches. When you're chewing gum, you don't tend to clench or grind. The chewing habit replaces these bad ones.

So, the next time you walk down the gum aisle, feel free to indulge. As long as your choice is sugar-free, your teeth will actually benefit from the experience. For more information, talk to a dentist.