Is chewing gum a healthy or dangerous habit? Our wonderful staff here at Dillon Family Dentistry would love to answer this frequently asked question for our patients! The answer… BOTH! Dr. Dillon puts a great deal of effort in practicing preventative dentistry here on the Main Line, so we would like to take a moment and share some interesting facts about chewing gum, and then we will let you decide your answer!

Risk:

A lot of gums contain sugar, which tastes great but can cause tooth decay (cavities) and many other health related problems. Who would ever choose to rub raw sugar directly against their teeth?

Benefit:

Sugar-free gums does not contain ingredients that can cause decay in your teeth, and the act of chewing actually stimulates the flow of your saliva, which helps prevent cavities!

Risk:

Chewing gum can cause inflammation and soreness in the temperomandibular joint (TMJ). This is the joint that connects your skull to your lower jaw. Chewing can trigger TMJ which can lead to pain, headaches, earaches, and toothaches!

Benefit:

Gum can help make your breath minty fresh after enjoying some of the smellier foods like onions and garlic, and also can relieve dry mouth. Dry mouth can promote some pretty unattractive mouth odors as well. (If you are experiencing bad breath that is present on more of a constant basis, that is usually a sign of some more serious dental issues. Give us a call at 610-525-5497, Dr. Dillon and his staff would be happy to get you an appointment scheduled!)

Risk:

Chewing gum can cause some unwanted and embarrassing problems at the other end! “Chewing gum can contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as excess air can be swallowed, which contributes to abdominal pain and bloating,” says Dr. Patrick Takahashi, chief of gastroenterology at St. Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles, California. In addition to swallowing air, the artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol can lead to diarrhea.

Benefit:

Studies performed by the British Psychological Society show that chewing gum increases the brains blood flow and can help with alertness and memory!

Risk:

You may think that chewing gum curbs your appetite, but a recent study in the Journal of Eating Behavior reports that chewing mint gum makes one reduce eating healthy foods like fruit, and lead to consuming more potato chips and junk food. (Hmm, wonder what a Cheetos flavored gum would do!!)

Benefit:

Chewing sugar-free gum can actually reduce the plaque build up on your teeth and neutralize harmful acids that your mouth produces, resulting in a reduction of cavities!

So, did you figure out your answer? Here at Dillon Family Dentistry we feel that chewing sugar-free gum in moderation can be a healthy dental habit as long as it doesn’t cause TMJ discomfort or other side effects.

If you have any questions about this topic, any other dental issues, or would simply like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 610-525-5497. If you happen to be in the Bryn Mawr area, go ahead and stop on by and check out our office and staff! We would love to hear from you, and help you any way we can!