Chewing gum and our dental health. Which one to choose?

Article

17. 02. 2021

The history of chewing gum dates back several thousand years. Of course, it was not the same chewing gum as we know them from today. Our ancestors often chewed different types of natural resins or the bark of many different trees. Proof of this are the tooth impressions of our ancestors on thousands of years old birch bark.

The modern inventor of chewing gum is said to be the American Thomas Adams - 1869. He used a material called "chicle" -  very popular natural gum used by Native Americansfor centuries before. The chicory is obtained from the Central American Zapota tree by cutting its bark. By injuring the bark, natural white latex is released, which is later cooked, and the result is the chicle - the basis of natural chewing gum to this day.

Today, the market offers a plethora of different chewing gums. Their composition is also very diverse. "In order for chewing gum to be considered 'healthy' or beneficial for our teeth, it should not contain any sugar that can be metabolized by bacteria into teeth-decaying acids. Therefore, chewing gums containing xylitol, instead of classic sugar and glucose syrup, are the perfect choice for healthy teeth. It is a natural sweetener, which also has a much lower caloric content than conventional sugar (sugar = sucrose - it consists of two types of carbohydrates, namely glucose and fructose). The bacteria causing tooth decay are unable to convert xylitol to acids, so there is no damage to the teeth,” explains Dr. Zdeněk William Pelc, MBA, Canadian Medical’s dentist. The only disadvantage of xylitol is its laxative (diarrheal) effect when consumed in higher quantities. Other natural sweeteners that are a suitable alternative to sugar are sorbitol (present in fruit) and mannitol (present, for example, in figs). On the contrary, the content of aspartame and acesulfame potassium, as synthetic sweeteners, cannot be considered completely suitable, especially for children.

"Regular chewing of gum also has the positive effect of increased salivation. This is caused by the expulsion of more saliva from the salivary glands (sublingual, submandibular and parotid) precisely due to the movements of the masticatory muscles and tongue. In addition, saliva has protective effects against the development of dental caries - it contains, among other things, calcium, lysozymes (enzymes that destroy bacteria) and protective immunoglobulins A, "points out MDDr. Pelc.

"On the other hand, chewing gum cannot be considered as a substitute for maintaining good oral hygiene, which is ensured by the regular use of toothbrushes, floss and interdental brushes. Likewise, excessive chewing is not recommended for people suffering from various diseases of the jaw (temporomandibular) joint, "adds MDDr. Pelc.

Chewing therefore remains a pleasant habit for a large part of the population, a means for quick and effective improving of our breath after consuming aromatic foods, but also only to relieve the tension caused by grinding our teeth at night which causes morning stiffness of the masticatory muscles.

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