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Dr Fareed Amod - Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

Is chewing gum good for your teeth? The answer is yes, if it is the right kind. People have been chewing gum for centuries, but not all chewing gums are the same. Chewing gum can help prevent tooth decay if it contains sweeteners such as xylitol and stevia, which have been shown to reduce the amounts of cavity-causing bacteria in plaque. However, a sugary gum, can have the opposite effect and contribute to the build-up of plaque on teeth.

If you chew gum containing xylitol and stevia after a meal, you may be helping to protect your teeth and promote oral health. Chewing this gum causes your mouth to produce more saliva, which helps clear away food, rinse away bacteria, strengthen teeth, and reduce acid in your mouth that weakens tooth enamel. Also, the minerals generated by the extra saliva can even help strengthen your tooth enamel, which is another important benefit in the fight against tooth decay. Importantly, xylitol and stevia have the amazing ability to prevent plaque from sticking and building up on your tooth enamel.

Another benefit of chewing sugar-free gum is enhanced breath freshness, especially if you opt for a refreshing mint flavour. Chewing gum can also help with tooth sensitivity. However, it is important to note that you should avoid gum if you have jaw problems. If you have known temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction or start to experience any clicking, popping or pain in your jaw, you shouldn’t chew gum. If these issues are new, see your dentist.

Are Xylitol and Stevia safe?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that can be found in small amounts in certain types of fruits and vegetables, but it’s most commonly extracted from various types of hardwood trees. Stevia is a sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudina local to Brazil and Paraguay.

As xylitol and stevia have fewer calories than sugar, they are used as a sugar substitute in certain circumstances. Processed stevia is generally regarded as safe when used in acceptable quantities. However, it may cause mild side effects, such as bloating, nausea, dizziness, numbness and muscle pain.

It’s worth noting that a lot of people will experience digestive discomfort from ingesting moderate to large amounts of xylitol. Even though it’s great for chewing gum or breath mints, swallowing too much xylitol can cause an upset stomach or diarrhoea. Since most oral care products or mints contain very little xylitol, you shouldn’t have any issue with your stomach unless you tend to have an extremely sensitive digestive tract.

If you’re a pet owner, you shouldn’t let your dogs get hold of anything containing xylitol. In dogs, xylitol has been shown to be life-threatening causing liver failure or death when it is consumed in large amounts. Due to its harmful effects, it’s best not to share any foods containing xylitol with your dog—even in small amounts. if your pet accidentally gets access to such items, look for warning signs of vomiting, lethargy, weakness, etc. If you think they ate something with xylitol, contact your vet immediately. Stevia is safe for dogs to consume, but in large quantities, can cause diarrhoea.

Visit your dentist

Does chewing gum frequently mean you can stop using your toothbrush and floss? Absolutely not. Chewing on sugar-free gum isn’t the only way to support healthy teeth. Limiting sugary foods is one of the easiest ways to preserve your tooth enamel without having to brush, floss or chew every time you eat something.

Visiting our dental office twice a year for a professional cleaning and examination is one of the best ways to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. At Crown Dental Studio, we’re committed to supporting our patients at any and all stages of their oral care journey.

No matter what your family’s needs are, we offer a wide range of services to support a healthy smile. Schedule an appointment with us today!

Dr Fareed Amod - Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

Crown Dental Studio is one of the few truly 24-hour dental practises in Durban as this is not limited to emergency dentistry treatment.

T: +27 81 207 8621


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