Does Chewing Gum Affect Oral Health?

The average American now chews approximately 300 sticks (1.5lbs.) of gum per year. Where does all this gum come from, and is it good for you? If you ask your dentist in Glendora, we will tell you that gum is an old treatment with deep roots. Its benefits have been discussed for centuries.

Chewing Gum and Oral Health: What’s the Deal?

We tend to think of gum as a confection akin to candy; however, unlike candy – which we all know can cause cavities – gum can actually improve oral health. This is because when you chew gum, you naturally increase the flow of saliva in your mouth. The extra saliva does two things: it helps wash away food and debris from eating, and it neutralizes acids from food, drink, bacteria, and plaque on your teeth. If left unchecked, the acid can break down tooth enamel over time, leading to tooth decay and cavities. Saliva not only washes away the bad stuff; it brings in good stuff: the saliva carries extra calcium and phosphate, which help strengthen tooth enamel.

Can Chewing Gum Replace Brushing or Flossing?

No. It is recommended that you should try to chew sugar-free gum after meals in addition to brushing and flossing, not as a replacement for either. Look for a gum specifically designed for oral health; for instance, “some gum might contain active agents that could enhance the gum’s ability to remineralize teeth and reduce decay or enable gum to help reduce plaque and gingivitis.”
As far as brushing and flossing, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day with dental floss “or other interproximal dental cleaners.”

The ADA Seal of Acceptance: Your Golden Ticket

When choosing a brand of gum, always look for the ADA Seal. This is your guarantee that the product has been “objectively evaluated for safety and efficacy by an independent body of scientific experts” (the ADA council on Scientific Affairs.)

A product can earn the ADA Seal in a number of ways, by proving their gum:

  • Reduces plaque acids
  • Promotes remineralization of tooth enamel
  • Reduces cavities
  • Reduces gingivitis
  • Is safe to oral tissues
  • Is sugar-free (uses a suitable sugar-substitute – see below)

The manufacturer must provide the results of both laboratory studies and clinical studies in humans.

Have ANY sugar-containing gums earned the ADA Seal?

To date, only sugarless gums have earned the ADA Seal. They use non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, sorbitol, and mannitol in place of sugar.
Get a Complete List of ADA Accepted Chewing Gum!

A Little Gum History

Greek Gum

Your dentist in Glendora can tell you that gum, or chewing gum, may be one of the world’s oldest confections. Originally derived from tree saps in ancient Greece, the original gum was far less sweet than today’s versions. The Greek word for gum, Mastiche, was derived from the word mastichan meaning “to chew.”

Gum in the Americas

Back on the American side of the world, Mayans on the West Coast chewed a sap of the sapodilla tree called tsictle. Native Americans living in what is now New England enjoyed chewing the sap of spruce trees; entrepreneur John Curtis would bring Spruce-sap chewing gums to the US market in the mid-1800s. In the 1870s, yet another American inventor, named Thomas Adams, found that heating the Mayan “chicle” (tsictle) with sugar and flavor produced a superior chewing gum. He soon founded Adams & Sons and began selling Blackjack, the first flavored gum (Blackjack tasted like licorice). Gum’s basic recipe — gum base, sugar (or sugar substitute), and flavoring– remains unchanged to this day.

Mass Production

Since WWII, gum manufacturers have relied almost entirely on synthetic ‘gum bases’ for mass production. The only US gum still containing “chicle” is Glee Gum.
What exactly these gum bases are made of is proprietary knowledge and is highly guarded, but we do know that it includes elastomers, resins, and waxes in different combinations. There are actually “a number of companies, including Ford Gum and Gum Base Co., that focus solely on developing and manufacturing new and improved gum bases.”

New Uses for Gum

Although most gum is sold as a type of candy for marketing reasons, people are finding new ways to sell gum every day. There is Nicorette and similar gums designed to help quit smoking. There are vitamin and caffeine infused gums. At this very moment, researchers are working on new ways to deliver therapeutic drugs – through chewing gum! “One of the world’s oldest confections clearly is no longer just for fun.”

Dentist in Glendora

If you are looking for a dentist in Glendora, look no further than Sachin P. Desai, DDS at Glendora Family Dentistry. Dr. Desai has dedicated his career to providing exceptional dentistry in a gentle, caring, and compassionate manner, and using the newest technology. Glendora Family Dentistry provides Special Offers to new and returning patients. Hablamos Espanol.

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