There’s no doubt about it, chewing gum once deserved the bad wrap it got. Some had sugar. Some had sugar in the form of jellies that would burst flavor into your mouth. Some promised bigger bubbles. Some promised weight loss.
All that excess sugar in one’s mouth only upped the odds of tooth decay since bacteria in your mouth feed off sugars as they wear away at tooth enamel and gum lines. Meanwhile, the chemicals added to some brands of gum are a sketchy way, at best, to lose weight, reduce stress or manage any other issue the marketing promises to manage.
Here are a list of ingredients some doctors and nutritionists recommend looking for on packages. And if you see any of them, try a different brand:
- Gum base—Sometimes a mystery ingredient. It’s not necessarily bad for you, but if you don’t know what it’s made of, it’s probably best to stay away.
- Aspartame—Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says aspartame is safe in normal dosages, it metabolizes in the body as phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methane. People with certain diseases should avoid it.
- BHT (aka Butylated Hydroxytoluene)—Once again the FDA is ambivalent on the issue: In high doses, BHT is a health risk, but in low amounts to preserve foods, BHT is safe.
- Calcium Casein Peptone (aka Calcium Phosphate)—Known to cause side effects in some folks, this calcium concoction cannot be taken when pregnant or when on certain prescription meds.
- Titanium Dioxide—The National Institutes of Health suggest more study on this compound and recommend that it be used with “great care.”
The Good Stuff
Now for the good news. Most manufacturers have moved away from sugar-based gum. And most people who chew gum, salivate a lot more due to the activity. Your saliva is a tooth-cleaning agent in that it wipes away food particles and neutralizes acids in the mouth that can cause tooth decay.
In addition, chewing gum sweetened with Xylitol helps fight cavities by making it harder for bacteria to bond to teeth. Nonetheless, don’t use this as a reason to excuse you from regular flossing and brushing.
ADA Seal of Acceptance
One of the best ways to determine if the pack of gum in your hand should end up as a stick of gum in your mouth is by looking for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, which means it is a safe brand that can help fight against cavities. Nonetheless, ADA approved brands have some of those sketchy chemicals noted earlier. However, those chemicals are called out loud and clear on label warnings.
Everything in Moderation
Like most pleasures in life, moderation is the best policy. If you enjoy chewing gum, chew it. The saliva activation is going to help in your dental care.
But avoid these pitfalls:
- Chewing gum as a substitute for brushing and flossing
- Chewing bubble gum
- Chewing gum that promises too much (e.g., weight loss)
- Chewing any gum if you have TMJ or other jaw movement issues
Chew on This
Want to find out what your dentist thinks about any brand of chewing gum and improve your dental health at the same time? Then, schedule an appointment with us today. We’ll discuss what sorts of dental care are best for you and clean your teeth too.