10 June 2019

Gum.  Chews.  Chud.  With all the slang words you hear for chewing gum, you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s nothing more than a fashionable trend.  Indeed, the stereotype of seeing somebody chewing a piece of gum, mouth wide open, is not particularly appealing.  Because of this, it might be easy to dismiss the thought of trying chewing gum.  This is a mistake.  Chewing gum (the sugar free kind) can be extremely beneficial for your oral health and in this article, I’m going to layout the reasons why.   

Chewing gum, in various forms, has been around for thousands of years.  It has been suggested that in its earliest forms, tree and plant-based ingredients were used as gum to simply help satisfy the human instinct to chew. Later, civilizations like the Mayans, Aztecs and then the Ancient Greeks went on to develop chewing gum that had health benefits.  It was at this time where chewing gum first became an oral health aid.  Even back then, chewing gum was found to be an effective ‘teeth cleaning’ and as a breath freshener. They also made it with antiseptic properties to keep the mouth clean and sanitised.   

Leaping forward to today, manufacturers have refined the ingredients of a modern-day chewing gum that is hugely helpful to maintain good oral health.

Chewing gum received its first scientific recognition for good health in 2007 when both the Oral Health Foundation and the American Dental Association approved it under their independent ‘Accreditation’ programmes.   

The landmark product was Wrigley’s Orbit Sugar Free Chewing Gum.  Robust evidence showed it to ‘help prevent cavities, reduce plaque acid and strengthen teeth’.  The landmark case ended decades of speculation about the benefits of sugar-free chewing gum for oral health.

Since then, several other sugar free chewing gums have been awarded with kite marks to certify their health benefits. Yet, many remain unaware of these advantages.

The oral health benefits of chewing sugar free gum can be summarised like this:

  • Chewing on sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal neutralises the acids in your mouth.
  • It also helps to remineralise your teeth and freshens breath too.
  • Sugar-free chewing gum often contains Xylitol. This ingredient helps to prevent tooth decay by stopping plaque bacteria sticking to the teeth.
  • It increases your saliva production and can be incredibly important if you suffer with dry mouth.

If you’re reading some of these for the first time, then you’re not alone. As part of National Smile Month, we were able to carry out a piece of nationwide research into sugar-free chewing gum and found that knowledge into its health benefits are still really low.

Almost three in four (70%) remain unaware that sugar free chewing gum helps saliva production and reduces tooth decay by neutralising plaque acids.  Nearly two in three (63%) don’t believe sugar free gum freshens breath1.

Making that change and picking up the simply habit of chewing sugar free gum, especially after a meal, is an easy one to adopt.  Packets are also really small, so they’re perfect for pockets and purses so that you can carry them while you’re on-the-go.

As plaque acids build up throughout the day, chewing sugar free gum can help give your mouth the extra help it needs in between brushing.  If you are out-and-about, just make sure you discard of the gum in a responsible way.

If you have any questions about sugar free chewing gum, or how it can help your give your oral health that boost, you have a few people you can turn to.  Firstly, your dental team. A dentist, hygienist, therapist or nurse are in the perfect position to give you more information and advise you about how sugar-free gum can benefit your individual needs.

If you have any questions in between appointments, you can contact our Dental Helpline. It’s staffed by fully-qualified oral health professionals and is completely confidential.  You can contact our Dental Helpline by telephone on 01788 539780 or on email at [email protected]


References

  1. ORAL HEALTH FOUNDATION (2019). ‘NATIONAL SMILE MONTH SURVEY’, ATOMIK RESEARCH, UNITED KINGDOM, SAMPLE 2,003.