Is gum chewing bad for my teeth?


Q: Is gum chewing bad for my teeth?

A: Although some consider gum chewing a “dirty habit”, occasionally chewing the right kind of gum can actually be a “clean habit”. Chewing sugarless gum can have a lot of benefits on your teeth and mouth besides just fresh breath. It can help prevent cavities and even ear, nose, and throat infections that originate in the mouth, through increased saliva flow containing bacteria-fighting antibodies. There are recent studies showing that gum containing 3 grams or more of xylitol actually inhibits bacterial growth. The stickiness of the gum itself can clean plaque off of the teeth, and the motion of chewing also causes your tongue and checks to rub against the teeth keeping plaque from sticking to them. On the other hand, bubble gum, which usually contains extremely high levels of sugar actually deposits more sugar onto the teeth than it removes. I have also seen numerous patients develop mild or moderate TMJ symptoms from excessive gum chewing. It exhausts the muscles and can lead to inflammation and popping of the jaw joint, especially if you are chewing on large wads of bubble gum. Gum chewing shouldn’t exceed 3-4 hours per day, and chewing late at night can over-excite the muscles and stimulate night-time clenching.

Drew Rossell