Does Chewing Gum Prevent Cavities?

There are many types of habits that people pick up during their lifetimes, some of which are helpful and others of which are not. Chewing gum has been a habit that Americans have enjoyed for more than 100 years. In the 1950s, sugar-free gum was introduced as a healthy way for people to enjoy chewing gum without damaging their teeth. In fact, chewing sugar-free gum can actually help prevent cavities from occurring. 

Close-up of young female having her teeth examinated

Inside each mouth there are millions of bacteria taking up residence every single day. This nightmarish truth may make you want to run to the bathroom and brush your teeth, and that is not definitely not a bad thing. These bacteria are naturally present to help break down the tiny particles that are left behind inside the mouth after eating and drinking anything other than water. The bacteria gather around the tiny particles and work to break them down so that they are not sitting between your teeth. However, as helpful as these bacteria mean to be, they become quite harmful after only a short amount of time. As the bacteria work they begin to produce acids to help them break down the particles more quickly. As with all acids, oral acids are destructive. Once the particles have been disposed of, the acids continue attacking whatever is in their path – this being your tooth enamel. Cavities are formed from acids eating tiny holes in the teeth. 

Chewing gum offers a surprising solution against the assault of acid producing bacteria. As you chew gum, your mouth naturally increases its production of saliva. Saliva helps to wash bacteria away from the teeth and out of the mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum for twenty minutes after eating a meal, snack, or enjoying a flavorful beverage can help to inhibit the damage that bacteria will cause on the teeth. 

Of course, it is imperative that you chew sugar-free gum. If you chew gum that is laden with sugar, you are simply inviting destruction into your mouth. Tiny particles of sugar will be left behind, and the bacteria will congregate around these particles in excessive amounts because sugar is their favorite. Pools of acid will develop very quickly, and damage will set it at a rapid pace. At Huebner Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics, we want to help all patients achieve a healthy smile. Brushing and flossing daily, keeping regular dental appointments, and chewing sugar-free gum are easy ways to achieve this goal.