Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

Sugar-free gum might not cause cavities, but that doesn’t mean it’s always good for your dental health. In this post, we explain when chewing gum is bad for your teeth and when it’s not.

Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

There’s a lot of conflicting information about chewing gum and whether it’s bad for your teeth or not. If you choose a sugar-free brand, chewing gum can have some positive effects. But even sugar-free gum can be bad for some people. We dive deeper into the pros and cons of chewing gum below.

When Is Chewing Gum Bad for Your Teeth?

Chewing gum is always bad for your teeth if it has sugar. When you chew a piece of gum, you chew it for a long time. The longer you chew, the longer your teeth are exposed to sugar. And more sugar exposure means more acid attacks from plaque. So if you want to prevent cavities and gum disease, choose a gum that’s sugar-free.

Chewing gum is also a bad idea if you have a TMJ disorder. Excessive chewing can trigger TMJ disorders or make them worse. So give your jaw a break, and don’t chew gum if you have trouble with TMJ. The same goes for bruxism—if you habitually grind your teeth, chewing gum can make your jaw pain worse.

And if you are straightening your teeth with braces, chewing gum is a recipe for disaster. It can easily get stuck in the brackets and you might bend or break the wires trying to remove it. Sometimes gum is even sticky enough to pull out restorations like fillings and crowns. So if you have had a lot of dental work or are going through orthodontic treatments, stay away from gum.

When Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Teeth?

If you chew sugarless gum, it can actually have some beneficial effects. Chewing gum stimulates your saliva production and prevents dry mouth. It can help neutralize acids and give you fresher breath. And if your gum is sweetened with xylitol, it can even help fight plaque and cavities.

If you’re ever in a situation where you can’t brush or floss your teeth—like driving a car—chewing gum can help remove food debris. But even though it might freshen your breath, gum is no substitute for a toothbrush. Just because your mouth feels clean, doesn’t mean you can skip brushing and flossing later on.

If You Choose to Chew Gum, Follow These Tips

  • Don’t overwork your jaw. Limit chewing to 15 minutes, or just spit the gum out when it loses its flavor. 
  • The best time to chew gum is after a meal, to increase saliva flow and prevent plaque buildup. Plus you get fresh breath!
  • Always choose sugar-free gum. Look for brands that use xylitol or stevia as a sweetener. 
  • Ask a dentist to recommend a tooth-friendly brand of gum, or look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Holistic Dental Care in Prescott

At Prescott Dentistry, we take a holistic approach to dental care because good dental health is good for the entire body. We’re also the only biomimetic dentist in northern Arizona. The materials we use for dental restorations mimic your natural tooth structure and will last a lifetime. But our biggest focus is on prevention—if you have questions about whether chewing gum with xylitol can help you prevent cavities and gum disease, ask us at your next visit! To make an appointment, just call 928-445-1660 or send us a message online.


Photo by Andra C Taylor Jr on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 10/16/2023.