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Choose Your Chewing Gum Carefully

A pile of chewing gum in wrappersChewing gum is a popular treat that offers many benefits, from improving focus levels to kicking nicotine cravings. One of the best-known benefits of chewing gum is its positive impact on oral health. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. Not all sugar-free gum is good for your teeth, and chewing too long or too often may have other negative health implications.

Ingredients Matter

When choosing your sugar-free gum, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients. Many sugar-free gum types contain an FDA-approved sugar substitute called xylitol. Studies have found that on its own, xylitol reduces the number of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. The trouble is, this is not always the only flavor enhancer present in sugar-free gums. Many companies add a number of acidic enhancers that can erode your tooth enamel over time. To avoid gum that contains acidic ingredients, look for the ADA stamp of approval on the package the next time you pick up a pack of gum.

Avoid Chewing For Too Long

People who experience jaw pain or tension should take care not to exceed the ADA’s recommended time limit of 20 minutes. Chewing gum can cause painful flare-ups in people who suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). TMJ is a disorder of the jaw joint usually caused by a misalignment of the joint. Constant chewing can cause fatigue and inflammation in the area that may cause inflammation and increase your symptoms. If chewing gum causes you jaw pain or leaves you with tenderness in your cheeks, you may benefit from TMJ treatment with an experienced professional.

Amalgam Fillings

People with traditional metal amalgam fillings instead of tooth-colored ones may also want to limit the amount of time they spend chewing gum. Studies have found a relationship between chewing gum and increased mercury levels in the body in individuals with amalgam fillings. Mercury is used in metal amalgam fillings as a binding agent to keep the metals together and stable. Gum chewing may activate the release of mercury. Future studies may be required to say definitively whether or not chewing gum releases more mercury from amalgam fillings than other activities.

Benefits of Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help reduce the risk of cavities by increasing saliva flow in your mouth. An increase in saliva will help to neutralize and break down food remnants and acids left behind after meals. Saliva also helps bring important nutrients that strengthen your teeth and enamel such as calcium phosphate.

Although sugar-free gum can reduce the risk of tooth decay, it does not replace a regular regimen of brushing and flossing. Gum does not remove plaque or clean between your teeth and cannot prevent gum disease. You will also still benefit from having a professional exam and cleaning every 6 months to keep your mouth healthy.

If you are looking for dental care in Westchester County, please contact Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown today.