Chewing gum can have both benefits and potential drawbacks when it comes to oral hygiene and overall health. Here are some key points to consider, says endocrinologist Dilyara Lebedeva:
Oral hygiene: Chewing gum can help improve oral hygiene by cleaning teeth and removing food debris from the mouth. When you chew gum, it stimulates the production of saliva, which can help neutralize acids, strengthen tooth enamel, and wash away food particles.
Breath freshener: Chewing gum with mint or other flavors can temporarily freshen your breath, making it a useful option after eating strong-smelling foods like garlic or onions.
Digestion Aid: Chewing gum can stimulate the production of saliva and stomach acids, potentially aiding digestion. However, the effects on digestion are relatively minor.
Saturation: Chewing gum may make you feel fuller, which may reduce the desire to eat more immediately after a meal. This can be useful for portion control.
Chewing gum without sugar: It is recommended to choose sugar-free chewing gum to minimize the risk of tooth decay. The sugar in chewing gum can feed bacteria in the mouth, leading to tooth decay. Sugar substitutes such as xylitol are commonly used in sugar-free chewing gum.
Time limit: Chewing gum for a long time, especially with sweeteners such as xylitol, can stimulate insulin production and potentially increase hunger. This can lead to overeating and weight gain. It is recommended to limit gum chewing maximum 15 minutes after eating.
Hygienic additive: Chewing gum should not replace regular oral hygiene routines, such as brushing, flossing, and routine dental exams.
Thus, chewing gum in moderation, especially sugar-free gum, may have some oral health benefits and may help control food cravings immediately after meals. However, it is important to avoid chewing gum for long periods of time and be mindful of its ingredients. Maintaining comprehensive oral hygiene and a balanced diet remains critical to overall health.