Chewing Gum: Is It Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

There are many myths about chewing gum and its effect on oral health. Chewing gums are popular throughout the world. But the sugar content in popular chewing gum brands can do more harm than good. Some researchers indicate that chewing can damage tooth enamel, the protective layer on the surface of teeth, due to constant pressure.

While other scientific studies show that chewing sugar-free gum helps reduce plaque buildup on your teeth. It leaves people wondering whether chewing gum is good or bad for their teeth.

This article answers all your concerns about whether chewing gum is good or bad for oral health.

What Does the History of Chewing Gum Have on Oral Health?

The history of chewing gum stretches back five thousand years to ancient China, Mayan, and Native American tribes. The history of chewing gum has various forms. According to anthropologist Jennifer, the author of ”The Chewing Gum of America,” ancient Americans used to chew chicle to clean their teeth and freshen their breath.

In contrast, the Europeans chewed birch bark to treat toothache, freshen up their breath, enjoyment, and treat other oral health issues. But in ancient days chewing gum may not have had any sugar form as some chewing gums today.

The Oral Benefits of Chewing Gum

Several studies demonstrate the positive effects of chewing gum, particularly sugar-free gum, on enamel health. According to research, chewing sugarless gum reduces dental caries risk when added to a regular oral care routine, like brushing and flossing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.

People chew gum to improve their breath, prevent tooth decay, and alleviate stress. Although some dentists recommend chewing gum, you should chew it in less than 20 min, chew it the right way and always ensure it’s sugar-free. Experts have found that chewing gum benefits your teeth in several ways.

It includes;

Saliva Stimulation

Saliva production is essential for oral health as it washes away food particles and neutralizes acid in your mouth to protect tooth enamel. Saliva has enzymes that help break down food particles into smaller pieces that are easy to swallow.

Chewing gum helps activate this process by increasing salivary flow and stimulating taste buds on the tongue. But not all gums have these effects, and sugar-free gum is the preferred option for reaping these benefits without the risk of increasing sugar intake.

Improves Your Breath

Chewing gum is a popular method for freshening breath. But it would be best if you did not use it as a substitute for good oral hygiene practices.

Control Mouth PH

Chewing gum helps maintain a balanced oral pH – a neutral pH ranging between 6.5 to 7.5. When the pH becomes too acidic, it can demineralize tooth enamel, increasing the risk of dental caries and erosion.

Various factors can contribute to the acidity of the oral environment, such as consuming acidic foods and beverages or producing acids by oral bacteria as they break down sugars. A balanced mouth pH helps protect against tooth decay, prevents bacteria growth, and promotes oral health.

Remineralize Enamel

Enamel remineralization is a natural process that helps repair and strengthen tooth enamel. Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, exposure to acids from food, beverages, and bacterial metabolism, leads to demineralization or loss of minerals from the enamel surface.

A study published in the International Dental Journal found that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals can help reduce the risk of tooth decay by promoting saliva production and enhancing the remineralization process.

Risks Associated with Chewing Gum

Chewing gum is considered safe when used as directed. But it also comes with risks, mainly if you chew it excessively, improperly, or sugared gum.

Here are some potential risks associated with chewing gum:

Dental Problems

Chewing sugared gum causes tooth decay and cavities. Chewing too much can damage your teeth by eroding enamel and exposing sensitive dentin. It makes the tooth more susceptible to corrosion.

Jaw Issues

Excessive chewing of gum can lead to jaw problems, like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). It causes pain in the jaw, face, and neck.

Digestion Problems

Swallowing can cause digestive issues, especially in kids. It can stick and form a blockage in the digestive system, which is dangerous.


Research has shown chewing gum can cause headaches in some people, especially those with a history of headaches or migraines.

Allergic Reactions

Some people are allergic to ingredients in chewing gum, like artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. Allergic reactions can cause itching and difficulty breathing.

Enamel Erosion

Some gums contain abrasives that scrub away plaque and clean between teeth, but too much scrubbing can harm your teeth’ enamel.

Environmental Impact

Gum is not biodegradable. As a result, it can litter the environment if not disposed of well.

What Is the Controversy?

Some studies show proven benefits of chewing gum, but there are still controversies over whether chewing gum is beneficial for your teeth in preventing tooth decay or improving your breath.

Some dentists warn against chewing too much gum due to its high sugar content. Others claim that if you’re eating lots of sugary foods throughout the day, chewing gum makes little difference in reducing cavities or improving your breath.

It’s essential to choose sugar-free gum over-sugared gum to maximize the benefits of chewing gum while minimizing the risks. Go for gum containing xylitol or other non-cariogenic sweeteners, and consider gums with added ingredients like CPP-ACP for additional enamel protection.

Final Words

Chewing gum has benefits and risks for oral health. Chewing sugar-free gum can help promote saliva production, aid in remineralization, reduce tooth decay risk, and improve breath freshness. But chewing sugared gum can contribute to tooth decay and plaque accumulation.

Chewing gum can be helpful. But it should not be a substitute for your oral care routine. By making mindful decisions about your gum-chewing habits, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine, and visiting the dentist, you can contribute to better overall dental health.


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