(KUTV) — Chewing gum can be both harmful and helpful to the health of your teeth and overall mouth. The determining factor is the type of gum you choose to chew.
“Chewing gum is a completely acceptable thing, assuming it’s sugarless gum,” says Hans Reinemer, DMD, Residency Program Director for Pediatric Dentistry at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.
Traditional bubble gum has one thing dentists hate — sugar.
“You need three things to have a cavity in your mouth. You need a tooth, you need sugar, and you need bacteria. If you can eliminate one of those things, you can reduce the incidents of dental decay,” says Dr. Reinemer.
Just like candy, sugar-filled bubblegum is harmful to your teeth, and because it’s gum, it’s in the mouth for an extended period of time — causing even more damage.
However, if the gum you’re chewing is sugar-free, then it’s just fine.
“If you chew a sugarless gum, it’s actually beneficial because it stimulates the production and the flow of saliva which buffers the acids on our teeth and prevents decay,” says Dr. Reinemer.
Certain types of sugarless gum can even help clean your teeth. Dr. Reinemer says there’s one artificial sweetener that has been shows to have antibacterial effects.
“So if you are going to go with a sugarless gum, look for one that contains a product called Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener. That’s been shown to have very positive effects on prevention,” says Dr. Reinemer.
While sugar-free gum may help you have a healthy mouth, it’s never a replacement for good brushing, flossing, and routine visits to the dentist.