If your dentist has recommended that you start chewing sugarless gum, you may be confused as to how effective this recommendation will be. It turns out, there are plenty of benefits to chewing sugarless gum.

How Tooth Decay Begins

Tooth decay starts when bacteria in your mouth start producing decay-causing acids, usually due to exposure to carbohydrates like sugars and starches. The acid depletes the minerals (like calcium) in your tooth enamel, creating small holes that the acid can work its way into to cause cavities.

It turns out that saliva is a natural protection not only against the bacteria in your mouth that create the acid, but against the mineral loss. Saliva contains these minerals and deposits them on your tooth enamel as it washes away bacteria and neutralizes acid.

Gum Increases Saliva Production

Chewing gum increases the amount of saliva present in your mouth, which inhibits bacteria (and therefore bad breath) and helps to repair minor damage associated with the beginning stages of tooth decay and gum disease.

Dry mouth is a common problem that leads to tooth decay. Certain conditions can cause dry mouth, and plenty of medications list dry mouth as a side effect. Chewing gum can help minimize the damage dry mouth can cause and protect your teeth.

Chewing Strengthens Teeth

The act of chewing also strengthens your teeth and jaws by applying the correct type of pressure safely on your teeth. If you have a history of chewing other things which can damage your teeth, gum will be twice as effective in fulfilling that habit and strengthening your teeth.

If you have dry mouth or issues with tooth decay, your dentist might recommend chewing sugarless gum as part of your treatment. Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

Oral health professionals have been looking into trying to combine gum with agents that can remineralize teeth or reduce plaque and gingivitis. Though chewing gums of various types have been with us for thousands of years, the future of chewing gum could prove more beneficial than gum itself has been.

While chewing gum won’t replace brushing and flossing, it has been repeatedly shown to reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease while strengthening your teeth. If you take up chewing gum after meals, you will still need to follow the rest of your oral hygiene routine, but it will be more effective at preventing decay and irritation.

If you have dry mouth, talk to your dentist about treatment options that might be available to you beyond chewing gum to stimulate the flow of saliva. Your dentist will need to know if you’re experiencing issues so that they can make appropriate recommendations to make your time in the dentist’s chair as pain-free as possible.
Remember that any chewing gum habit you pick up should be sugarless for the protection of your teeth. Sugar is a carbohydrate that puts your teeth at risk. You wouldn’t want to cause the type of damage you’re trying to prevent. Chewing gum is a cheap and easy way to protect your oral health while maintaining fresh breath.