Is chewing gum good or bad for your teeth?

Is chewing gum good or bad for your teeth?

At 100,000 tons consumed each year, chewing gum is considered by some to be the world’s most common habit. Though it’s not always viewed in this manner, chewing gum is considered an increasingly beneficial habit from oral health to digestion.

The American Dental Association recognizes the protective qualities of sugar-free chewing gum identified through a number of studies. Some believe tooth decay can be reduced by regular use of approved products. Be advised it does not replace the benefits of regularly brushing and flossing.

In addition to better oral health, there are multiple benefits attributed to the chewing of gum, especially brands sweetened with xylitol. Some benefits include:

Improved oral hygiene. Similar to brushing your teeth before bed, chewing gum has been clinically proven to be an important part of oral hygiene. The act of chewing stimulates saliva which helps fight cavities, neutralize plaque acids, remineralize enamel to strengthen teeth and wash away food particles, according to the Wrigley Health Program.

Enhanced memory. Have you ever heard the saying, "He can't walk and chew gum at the same time?" Well, there is little truth to that insult. Chewing gum can assist in the brain's ability to multi-task as well as improve concentration, alertness and focus. A study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine indicated a positive effect of chewing gum on academic performance in teenagers in a classroom setting.

Stress reduction. Chewing gum may positively impact brain activity, combat tension, reduce stress, improve alertness and relieve anxiety.

Weight management. Keeping a 5-calorie stick of gum in your pocket could be the missing link to your diet. Chewing gum can help you curb cravings by helping you resist mindless snacking and control calorie intake. Switching a snack for a piece of gum can help chewers reduce their caloric intake by an average of 36 calories, according to research by the University of Rhode Island.

Your Los Angeles dentist can advise you whether or not chewing gum is recommended, as it may prove to be problematic for people with alignment issues, braces or other dental work. If you are looking for a new dentist, sign-in to Angie’s List to read member reviews about providers in your area. You’ll have access to information from dental patients like Jerilyn Beck, who says Dr. Robert Shimasaki of Park Place Dental in Pasadena, Calif., runs "one of the most professional dental offices" she has ever been to.

"We all go to him for general dentistry and teeth cleaning," she says of herself and three of her children. "They have excellent dental hygienists that have been thoroughly trained. His office is equipped with the best equipment and his staff is trained with the latest dental techniques."

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