Chewing Gum and Your Teeth

gum-teethChewing gum has earned itself a bad reputation among moms that are actively watching out for their children’s teeth – unnecessarily so, in some cases. It comes as no surprise that brushing and flossing regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and visiting your dentist are still the best ways to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. But is should also be known that some recent studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for about 15-20 minutes after eating can also be beneficial. The key ingredient here (or lack thereof) is sugarless.

Xlyitol is a sugar substitute, or alternative, which in some studies may reduce cavities itself by keeping the PH neutral (it is the acid formation from the bacteria that breaks down the enamel and causes decay).

Teeth are formed with extremely hard, durable surfaces. But they are not indelible and their porous nature can be easily affected by the things we eat and drink. Since teeth are at their most vulnerable after snacks and meals, chewing sugarless gum after eating may actually help prevent tooth decay. When we chew sugarless gum after meals, we stimulate the flow of saliva which washes away the acid produced by the bacteria in the mouth. Left on the surface of the tooth, this acid may eventually damage the tooth enamel which will allow bacteria in your mouth to cause cavities. Chewing sugarless gum not only freshens your breath, but it also cleans the surfaces of the teeth and washes away food particles.

Some of the many ways chewing sugarless gum can improve oral health:
1. Freshens breath
2. Cleans the surfaces of the teeth
3. Increases saliva flow which neutralizes the acid that can cause tooth decay
4. Cleans mouth by washing away food particles
5. Can help reduce in-between meal snacking
6. Can help reduce symptoms of dry mouth
7. Can help ease stress

Although chewing sugarless gum can be beneficial in maintaining good oral health, chewing gum that contains sugar can possibly promote tooth decay and should be avoided altogether.

Although there are numerous benefits to chewing sugarless gum after snacks and meals, it should not take the place of regular brushing and flossing. Brushing after meals and snacks with fluoride toothpaste is the best choice, but when it proves inconvenient, chewing sugarless gum can be a helpful alternative. Practicing good oral hygiene habits at home as well as eating well-balanced, nutritious meals are essential in maintaining a healthy, beautiful smile.

Remember, the sugar from the things we eat and drink will combine with bacteria in your mouth to form the acid that may negatively impact the enamel of the tooth. Once the enamel is damaged, bacteria in the mouth can cause cavities. Chewing sugarless gum – such as Trident – along with an adherence to regular brushing and flossing, will ensure that your teeth are healthy and beautiful for a lifetime.

And as Dr. Cobb always says: good oral hygiene habits, combined with healthy food choices and bi-annual checkups are the best way to prevent tooth decay.

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