Why Chewing Gum Is Important For A Great Smile

by Lindsey Rose Black

Hate flossing, but still want a commercial-worthy smile? You have probably wondered "Is chewing gum better than flossing?" I reached out to two dentists to find out the truth. If you follow their advice, your smile will be healthy and bright in no time.

"I believe chewing sugarless gum is good, especially after meals when someone doesn’t have the chance to brush and floss," says Carlos J. Huerta, DMD at Dental Boutique NYC, "but it is definitely not a substitute for flossing." Womp.

He continues, "Flossing physically scrapes away plaque from the surfaces between the teeth, which is [not even reached] by brushing alone ... Just as chewing gum is not a substitute for brushing since those fuzzy colonies of bacteria will stick around, it is definitely not a substitute for flossing in areas even less accessible to cleaning."

Dr. Elaine Gonzales with Ever Care Dental agrees with Huerta. She tells me, "The simple act of flossing helps prevent ... either cavities, gum disease, or both." And for a bonus tip on flossing correctly, she adds, "Make sure you place the floss in between your teeth and sweep up against the teeth on either side. Waxed, non waxed or mint—as long as it gets you in there and you do it properly, it does not matter."

But just because chewing gum shouldn't take the place of flossing doesn't mean it's totally void of benefits. Both Huerta and Gonzales shared a few advantages of blowing the occasional (sugar-free) bubble.

1. Helps Protect Against Plaque

"As gross as it may sound, sugarless gum can trap small particles of food while being chewed," says Huerta. "This provides less food to the hungry bacteria sticking around on the teeth [and prevents plaque]."

2. Increases Salivary Flow

Gonzales shares, "Chewing gum is known to help increase salivary flow which is good for helping decrease your caries (cavity) risk."

Huerta elaborates on why more saliva is a good thing, explaining, "Being that it is rich in minerals, saliva helps re-strengthen teeth after an "attack" from acid exposure during eating and drinking throughout the day ... Saliva also has proteins and defensive cells that help fight bacteria in the mouth." Who knew saliva was so #fierce?!

3. Shuts Down Bacteria

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Huerta says, "Some sugarless gum contains Xylitol as a sweetener, which is an antibacterial substance that suppresses the growth of more bacterial colonies." He adds that Orbit brand is his go-to for patients.

So, chew on my friends, but don't forget to finish with floss!

Images: Fotolia (1, 2, 3); Courtesy of Brand