To Chew or Not to Chew: Gum and Your Children’s Teeth
What’s not to love about chewing gum? After all, it’s refreshing, sweet and, of course, it’s fun to blow bubbles. But, you might be wondering if chewing gum is bad your kids’ teeth. The truth is that gum can be harmful, but it can also be good for them, too. So, what does that mean? Here’s everything you need to know about gum and your children’s teeth.
The Benefits of Chewing Gum
In actuality, there are a lot of positive reasons to enjoy a stick of gum. For example, it can help improve kids’ focus at school or while doing homework. Also, because gum increases saliva flow, it can help decrease the symptoms of dry mouth. Finally, chewing gum can actually prevent cavities, too.
Here’s how it works. When chewing sugar-free gum, the mouth produces extra saliva, which helps wash away food and other debris. This is important because bacteria thrive on leftover food particles. As the bacteria feed, they produce an acid, which leads to plaque growth. The plaque then wears away the enamel, contributing to the development of cavities. That’s why the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal to help cleanse the mouth. In fact, some sugar-free gum actually has the ADA Seal, meaning it’s dentist-approved. Some gums on the list include:
- 5 Sugarfree Gum
- Eclipse Sugarfree Gum
- Extra Sugarfree Gum
- ICE BREAKERS ICE CUBES Sugarfree Chewing Gum
- Trident Sugarfree Gum
The Downsides of Chewing Gum
Although sugarless chewing gum is fine for kids’ teeth, regular gum is not. Of course, sugar is one of the main ingredients in gum, and excess sugar can lead to tooth decay. Sugar is okay in moderation, but you can see why it’s best to avoid eating a lot of sugary candy and snacks, including gum.
It’s also important to know that chewing gum isn’t right for every child. There are some situations where your dentist might advise against it. For example, chewing gum isn’t recommended for kids with braces, crowns or bruxism (tooth grinding). In addition, children shouldn’t chew anything while wearing retainers or clear Invisalign trays. And, if you’re not sure about gum and your children’s teeth, feel free to talk to Dr. Prokop about it at your next visit.
Happy Teeth, Happy Kids
Overall, it’s okay for kids to have sugar-free chewing gum after a meal. It’s recommended actually. So, the next time he or she asks you for a piece of gum, you can feel better knowing it’s healthy for their teeth. Ultimately, it’s your call. As the parent, you know when your child is ready to chew gum without swallowing it (or sticking it under tables!). And remember, sugarless chewing gum doesn’t replace regular flossing and brushing. For more healthy tips about gum and your children’s teeth, contact Tooth Fairy Smiles for an appointment today.