The question has flustered parents, teachers, and children alike for ages—is chewing gum good or bad for a child’s dental health? The habit can undoubtedly be annoying for adults chaperoning groups of gum-chewing children, but whether or not its detrimental to a child’s smile is a complicated question. Some additives, excessive chewing, and a lack of good dental hygiene can make chewing gum a risk, but some types of gum can benefit your child’s natural mouth defenses when chewed in moderation.
Choose the Right Gum
Considered by itself, the act of chewing something edible is beneficial for a number of reasons. The stimulation helps maintain a steady supply of nutrient-rich blood to the jawbone. Chewing also promotes a steady production of saliva, which can help clean your mouth after eating a meal or snack. Made almost entirely of water (over 99%), saliva is your mouth’s natural defense against oral bacteria and the tooth-eroding acids they produce. The sugar in many gum brands can feed these germs, increasing acid production and negating the benefits of increased saliva. Sugarless gum eliminates that risk, and many kinds of chewing gum now contain Xylitol, a naturally-occurring sweetener found in fruits and vegetables that inhibits the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
Kids Who SHOULDN’T Chew Gum
Reducing the sugar content of chewing gum helps eliminate the increased risk of cavities, but tooth decay isn’t the only complication that can arise from the habit. Children who wear orthodontic braces, or who exhibit symptoms of TMJ disorder (a jaw joint dysfunction), should refrain from the sticky treat. Chewing gum can stick to and damage the brackets and wires of your child’s braces. Constant chewing can exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ disorder, leading to more frequent headaches and migraines, as well as jaw pain and facial soreness. If your child hasn’t been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, but complains of chronic aches and pains that might indicate a jaw problem, then visit Dr. Smith as soon as possible for an evaluation.
About Your Grand Prairie Children’s Dentist:
Dr. Quinn Smith is a well-respected and highly experienced family and children’s dentist in Grand Prairie, TX. He takes a patient-first approach that starts from the moment patients enter our Park Tree Dental office, and he offers a three-year guarantee on all dental work that he performs. Whether you’re a new or returning patient, you can schedule a consultation or your next appointment with Dr. Smith by contacting us at (972) 262-5111.