Aside from mints, gum is one of the first things we reach for when we notice we’ve got bad breath. You might be surprised to learn that chewing gum can actually be good for your teeth if you choose the right one!
Chewing of any kind increases the production of saliva, which protects your teeth by keeping them clean and by helping to strengthen the enamel.
Sugar-free gum can be a great choice and can actually benefit your teeth, as long as you choose the right type. Chewing gum that contains sugar offsets the advantage because the sugar increases your risk of cavities.
The key is to avoid citrus flavours like orange, lemon or lime as these contain acids that damage your teeth in other ways. While these acidic flavours give gum a great taste, they react with calcium in our saliva, reducing its ability to keep tooth enamel strong. Opt for something simple like sugar-free mint and you’ll be in a much better position.
Just like strength training at the gym leads to bigger muscles, chewing gum (non-citrus and sugar free) is kind of like a workout for your mouth. Repeated chewing actually makes your saliva gland cells larger and more efficient so not only are you creating more saliva while chewing the gum, but also during ‘rest periods’ when you’re not chewing anything.
It’s during these rest periods that saliva has a big influence on the kinds of bacteria growing in your mouth.
You should avoid chewing any gum if you already have health conditions involving jaw joint pains or have other reasons to avoid chewing for extended periods.
Chewing sugar-free gum can be a useful add-on to an oral health routine but don’t throw away your toothbrush just yet! You still need to brush and floss daily to remove plaque from your teeth.