Chewing gum is popular with most children, but does it cause problems for their oral health? At Redwood Pediatric Dentistry, we often have patients ask about chewing gum and the impact it can have on your child’s teeth and gums. Here are some things you need to know about chewing gum and the impact it has on your oral health.
Pros of Chewing Gum
Chewing Gum Increases the Production of Saliva
Kids love candy, which can easily stick between the teeth and to the deep fissures of your teeth. Chewing gums helps to increase the flow of saliva, which assists in washing food particles away from the teeth and gums. Saliva helps to neutralize the bacteria in the mouth that increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Chewing gum does help to stave off hunger, which is convenient when it comes to people that snack often. Chewing gum is better than snacking on salty and sweet treats, which can lead to problems with excess food left behind in the mouth to cause problems.
Strengthen The Jaw
Young children are dealing with a number of development phases. Keeping the jaw strong is the best way to decrease tenderness in the jaw. A lot of people will hold stress in their body in a variety of ways, often by teeth clenching. If a child continues to clench their jaw and grinds their teeth, it can start to cause problems with the enamel wearing down, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Children often jump at the chance to chew gum, which is why using gum is one of the best ways to help them participate in the overall treatment process.
Unlike sugary and salty snack foods, gum doesn’t contain ingredients that can cause problems with bacteria in the mouth. Xylitol is an ingredient that helps to reduce plaque and cavities. Xylitol has a sweet taste, so it simulates the flavor of sugar. Kids can chew gum and receive that sweet flavor they want without parents being worried over their oral health. Calcium lactate is another ingredient that is commonly used to strengthen the teeth.
Cons of Chewing Gum
The Risk of Cavities from Sugar Gum
Sugar tastes great and when it’s part of gum, some kids just cannot get enough! Here at Redwood Pediatric Dentistry, we see a lot of children with tooth decay caused from sugar gum. Most of the gum on the market doesn’t contain sugar, but there is a large amount of chewing gum marketed toward children, and this gum normally contains sugar. The problem we see with sugar gum is how it actually pushes sugar into the enamel of the teeth, and causes infection of the gums.
Too Much Chewing Leads to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
Some kids love gum so much that they tend to chew too much gum. Chewing too much gum can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD for short. Children will normally complain about lower jaw pain, consistent aching of teeth, and the jaw can make a popping noise. Limit the amount of time you allow your children to chew gum each day to prevent them from excessive chewing.
Risks of Choking
A major concern anyone has when it comes to food in the mouth is the risk of choking. Young children simply do not have the ability to chew gum without trying to swallow it. Chewing has always been associated with swallowing, so the idea of just chewing something can be confusing for many children. Some children will start to choke, while others will just swallow the gum.
Our goal at Redwood Pediatric Dental office is to help you and your child understand the best way to care for their oral health. We are here to help and can answer any questions you have related to chewing gum and kids. Call our Taylorsville dental office today to schedule an appointment (801) 281-8881!