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Many Americans chew gum to pass the time, relieve stress, and freshen their breath. Although the American Dental Association has given its seal of acceptance to some sugar-free chewing gums, it’s important to be aware of frequent chewing gum use and the effects that it can have on your teeth. 

The Downsides of Chewing Gum

Chewing gum regularly can increase your risk of developing:  

  • Cavities

If you chew gum containing sugar, it will coat your teeth with a sugary film. This sugar serves as food for acid-producing bacteria that can lead to cavities. 

  • TMJ disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is found where the jawbone connects to the skull. TMJ disorders occur when the muscles that control the TMJ become fatigued. Frequently chewing gum can fatigue these muscles and contribute to TMJ disorders, which can lead to jaw pain and discomfort. 

  • Headaches

Frequent gum chewing can also lead to tension in the jaw and facial muscles, which can contribute to headaches. 

Sugarless Chewing Gum and Tooth Decay

Chewing gum that is 100% sugarless may provide one key oral health benefit: a reduced risk of tooth decay. This is because chewing sugarless gum stimulates saliva production in the mouth. This is beneficial because saliva washes food particles and cavity-causing bacteria out of the mouth. 

Reaching for sugarless chewing gum after a meal or snack can help prevent food particles from sitting on the teeth and protect you against tooth decay. Just make sure that the gum is 100% sugar-free, given that sugar-containing gum will increase your risk of cavities!

If you’re a gum chewer, discuss this habit with your dentist, as he or she can provide recommendations to improve your oral health and prevent negative effects from gum chewing.

Contact 19th Avenue Dental to schedule your next dental exam and cleaning with Dr. Yamaguchi today!