How chewing gum consumption influences oral health

Chewing gum in its various forms has existed since ancient times. Already in ancient Greece, the sap of the mastic tree, called “mastiche”, was chewed. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the ancient Mayas consumed a sap called “tsiclte”. At the time of colonization, the habit was inherited from the Native Americans of New England, who chewed spruce sap. Today, the basis for producing chewing gum is a mixture of synthetic materials (elastomers, resins and waxes).

Is chewing gum good for my mouth?

According to dental specialists, when chewing gum, the flow of saliva secreted in the mouth can increase considerably, thus enhancing its beneficial effects.

Saliva is a key element in the maintenance of teeth and oral mucosa, in digestion and also in the control of oral infections. Its main functions are to neutralize acids, act as a lubricant and provide calcium, phosphate and fluoride to the teeth.

The reduction of saliva causes changes in the oral flora, which increases the possibility of creating dental caries, for example.

Why is it good to chew gum?

The pH after eating is acidic, which is why increasing saliva production can help neutralize the pH, wash away bacteria and remineralize tooth enamel. As a carrier of mineral substances such as phosphate and calcium, saliva helps to strengthen tooth enamel, preventing damage and demineralization caused by acids.

Today, due to their composition, some chewing gums can enhance the already beneficial natural capacity of chewing gum. They may contain, for example, active agents that improve the ability to remineralize teeth and reduce the occurrence of caries or help prevent gingivitis and the formation of bacterial plaque. Thus, chewing sugarless gum after eating can help prevent the formation of dental caries. It is recommended that chewing gum should always be sugar-free, as sugar helps acid-producing bacteria.

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Chewing gum should not replace the dental hygiene ritual.

The consumption of chewing gum should never be a substitute for oral hygiene methods. Dental brushing should be continued at least twice a day and the cleaning ritual should be complemented with the use of dental floss and interproximal brushes, if recommended by the dentist.

Generally, its consumption is discouraged in people who have facets of dental wear not in accordance with age. It could also cause “overwork” in the muscles of mastication, so it is not indicated in patients with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pathology. Consumption is also not suitable for people undergoing orthodontic treatment.