In the early 1900s, Wrigley, the popular gum manufacturer shipped a free stick of sugar filled gum to every American child turning age 2. When the gum was shipped, it came with a letter that claimed that chewing gum is “good for children’s teeth, which need more exercise than they get with modern soft food.”

Dr. Jade Miller of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry explained that there is no evidence to back up this claim. He stated that back in the 20s and 30s, there wasn’t a great deal of science about whether gum affected bacteria in any way. People just believed that because gum increased the flow of saliva, it may have helped clean the teeth and mouth.

These days, however, research proves that chewing gum that contains sugar increases the risk of cavities and contributes to tooth decay. It also exacerbates jaw problems and may lead to breakage of dental restorations if it is too hard or sticky. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics now views gum as a choking hazard for children ages 5 and under.

The letter that was enclosed with the free Wrigley gum sticks in the 1900s also suggested that gum may offer relief from the pain of teething. This piece of advice has also been disproved as remedies for curing teething discomfort now involve soft-bristled toothbrushes which allow children to chew, suck, or rub on their gums or teething toys.

Is Chewing Gum Recommended by Dentists?

If your child or teen does chew gum, they should make sure it is free of sugar. In most cases, chewing gum is okay and can actually serve as a good preventive measure when brushing and flossing is not practical. However, chewing gum, regardless of whether it’s sugar free or not should never be a replacement for good dental hygiene. Teeth brushing twice a day and flossing daily should still be practiced whenever possible.

Contact Orthodontic Only For More Information

If you’d like further details on whether chewing gum is beneficial, feel free to contact Dr. Derek Sanders of Orthodontics Only. You can also schedule a free consultation for your child or teen by calling (305) 598-3384.