Chewing a sugar free gum though has become very common practice now-a-days. May be you chew sugar free gum to overcome stress or just as a good time pass but few only know that it actually helps in maintaining a good oral health. So, in this article we will discuss about some beneficial effect of chewing a sugar free gum with respect to oral health.
Chewing a sugar free gum, though sugar free for at least 20 minutes following meals, prevents tooth decay as it stimulates the saliva formation, thereby neutralizing the oral cavity and hence wards off oral environment with bacteria responsible for cavity formation. This act also decreases the acidic environment in mouth.
Now, as there is extra saliva formation, there is more of minerals in the form of calcium and phosphate that helps in strengthening the tooth enamel.
So, make sure if you are having habit of chewing sugar free gum, prefer sugarless or the one that comes with American Dental Association seal because chewing sugar containing sugar free gum can have totally opposite effect and can erode enamel thereby accelerating cavity formation.
Sugarless or ADA sealed chewing sugar free gum contains aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol that plays a key role in preventing cavity formation.
“Though chewing sugar free gum in good for oral health but should not be substituted with tooth brushing and flossing. This is just an additional act of maintaining good oral health.”
Though chewing sugar free gum is good but it should never be a substitute for tooth brushing or flossing. Tooth brushing should be done daily along with flossing twice daily.
Chewing sugar free gum does not reach every corner of tooth as brushing can. Sugar free gum can only neutralize the acidic environment and helps cleansing superficially.
The main cause of dental erosion is the excess consumption of acidic food or regurgitation (that reduces the pH below 5.5). This causes demineralization of the enamel at a faster pace than remineralisation. Chewing a sugar free gum neutralizes the acid produced and thereby preventing dental erosion.
Reduces saliva is the main cause of dry mouth and since sugar free gum stimulates saliva formation and hence prevents dry mouth.
Therefore, it is recommended to chew sugar free gum after eating or drinking.
But beware before giving chewing sugar free gum to children as it is contraindicated less than 7 years of age. The main reason is that it can be swallowed. Though swallowing a gum is harmless and can be excreted normally via faeces but then also it should not be given to children under 7 years.
Till now we talked only of the positive effects of chewing a gum but let us now talk of some deleterious effects of chewing a gum.
Chewing a gum continuously from one side can cause imbalance of jaw muscles that can in long run cause Temporo-Mandibular Joint disorders. Also its continuous chewing can cause headache, pain in ear and event tooth (due to continuous usage of one muscle only).
As discussed above, chewing sugar containing gum can have deteriorating effect on oral health and may trigger cavity formation.
Moreover, regular gum chewing can cause attrition of teeth.
3. Gastrointestinal Problems
Excessive chewing may lead to intake of air and thus can cause bloating leading to abdominal pain.
Due to artificial sweeteners, people may experience diarrhoea.
Many of the chewing gums contain artificial sweeteners like “aspartame” that is known to be carcinogenic and can cause birth defects, cancers and brain tumours.
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