Should my child chew sugar-free gum?

When it comes to chewing gum, dental professionals across the board have come to agree: Sugar-free chewing gum is better for our teeth. Even with the support of experts from organizations like the American Dental Association and Colgate, adults everywhere – especially those who are parents – have come to question the overall benefits of sugar-free gum.

For many, the issue has become: Do the tooth-cleaning benefits of sugar-free gums out-weight the potential risks that people are associating with thier sugar-free ingredients and preservatives?

In an attempt to answer this burning question, we’ve taken to the Internet in search of reputable sources and definitive answers. Here’s what we found:   

Sugar-Free Gum and Healthy Teeth

At it turns out,  sugar-free chewing gum does a pretty good job when it comes to keeping teeth clean and preventing cavities. While gum of any kind should never replace regular brushing and flossing, when used in conjunction with good dental habits sugar-free gum does have the power to help fight cavities.

Here’s why dental professionals recommend sugar-free gum:

When it comes to having a healthy mouth and cavity-free teeth, saliva plays one of the biggest roles! Even though it’s not always seen as a superhero of dental hygiene, saliva keeps our teeth clean by washing away leftover food and sugar that would otherwise feed cavity-causing bacteria.

Saliva is also responsible for helping to wash away any decay-causing acid that’s formed as a result of bacteria who have started to munch on leftover food and sugar.

Now, the act of chewing is one of the easiest ways to promote more saliva production. More saliva production means less food for cavity-causing bacteria, and less food for cavity-causing bacteria means fewer cavities!

Gum that doesn’t have sugar promotes chewing/saliva without leaving more sugar in the mouth or between teeth, which is why dental professional will recommend sugar-free gum over regular gum.

The Question of Ingredients

In today’s world, it’s many of chewing gum’s lab-engineered ingredients like xylitol, aspartame, and butylated hydroxytoluene (along with a series multi-syllabic compounds) that have parents and gum-chewers everywhere thinking twice. 

Not surprisingly, the information and opinions on these ingredients vary widely – even when looking at information and studies supported by reputable sources and industry leaders. That being said, there was 0nesentiment acknowledged by almost every source – which leads us to our takeaway. 

The Takeaway
Even if there’s still no definitive verdict, nearly every source did agree on this:

The benefits of the occasional piece of sugar-free gum out-weigh any of the possible concerns.

While this statement is still subject to change, the key word here is ‘occasional’. Like many things in life, moderation is key when it comes to gums and candies, be they sugar-free or not! 

NOTE: Though it goes without saying, those who have Phenylketonuria (PKU), which is the inability to break down phenylalanine (a common ingredient in sugar-free gums and candies) should not have sugar-free gum.