Most kids love chewing gum – whether it’s packaged in a big round ball, bubble tape, or a simple 5-stick pack. But do you worry about how chewing gum affects your child’s teeth?
We all know that sugar is bad for your child’s teeth. Certain oral bacteria feed off sugar in the mouth to build acids that ruin the tooth enamel. When the tooth enamel wears away, holes in the teeth called cavities, form. Therefore, we do not suggest allowing your child to chew gum with sugar.
On the other hand, chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva in the mouth and consequently diminishes plaque acid – the culprit of tooth decay. The less acid in the mouth, the better. Interestingly, saliva flow also transfers with it additional calcium and phosphate to aid in supporting tooth enamel.
Look for the ADA Seal on chewing gum. According to the American Dental Association, a product earns the seal “by showing with scientific evidence that the chewing gum is effective for one or more specific indications, such as reducing plaque acids, promoting remineralization of tooth enamel, reducing cavities and/or reducing gingivitis. Studies must also show that the gum is safe to oral tissues. The manufacturer must provide the results of both laboratory studies and clinical studies in humans.”
A list of chewing gum products with the ADA Seal can be found here. Popular brands such as Dentyne, Extra, Orbit and Trident produce ADA-approved chewing gum. Currently, there aren’t any chewing gum products with sugar that have received approval from the ADA.
It’s important to note that chewing sugarless gum for dental benefits cannot replace brushing and flossing. We recommend that children brush twice a day for two minutes each time and floss between all teeth once per day.
Remember, it’s healthiest to encourage your child to snack on veggies such as apples, carrots, or celery. Not only do fruits and veggies help maintain “happy smiles” but they also provide many other health benefits as well. Additionally, before you give chewing gum to your child, be sure he or she is old enough to understand not to swallow it.
PDGF tip: Teachers and principals aren’t fans of chewing gum so be sure your child doesn’t bring it to school!