Chewing gum is not a new development or even a new habit. Researchers have found evidence of humans chewing tree sap before anything was manufactured. Today, chewing gum is made up of synthetic materials that you may believe is bad for your teeth. According to the American Dental Association, choosing the right kind of gum may go a long way to protect your teeth and help fight cavities. Before you snag your next pack of gum, understand what to look for and learn why chewing a stick of gum can be beneficial.
What To Look For
We’re not giving you a green light to chew any kind of gum. Your childhood favorites probably won’t make the approved list, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop chewing gum altogether. So, what do you look for when you’re standing in line at the grocery store? Sugar-free gum. “Sugar-free” doesn’t indicate the absence of sweet. (Who wants salty or flavorless chewing gum?) But it does mean that in place of sugar, the gum contains high-intensity sweeteners like saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame or sugar alcohols like xylitol. When making your gum selection, look for the ADA seal of approval. This way, you know you’re choosing a gum that is truly sugar-free and can benefit your oral health.
Three Ways Sugar-Free Gum Helps
There are three important ways that sugar-free gum can protect your teeth and increase your overall dental health.
- It Can Strengthen Your Enamel
Did you know that chewing (sugar-free) gum can strengthen your tooth enamel? When the enamel on your tooth is strong, you have a greater chance of avoiding cavities and decay. After a meal, chewing gum can reduce the acids that remain on your teeth. It can also supply minerals to your teeth that help protect against enamel erosion. Xylitol is a key player in promoting enamel strength, so read your labels and look for this ingredient.
- It Can Help Prevent Cavities
It’s not too good to be true. Sugarless gum prevents tooth decay because while you chew it, you increase the flow of saliva. Your saliva will not only neutralize the acid in your mouth but wash away and leftover food particles. Sure, gums that contain sugar can also boost the flow of saliva, but sugar is like a magnet to bacteria that causes plaque buildup and ultimately, cavities. Your saliva might be doing its job of neutralizing the acid, but the sugar counteracts any job well-done. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals will help prevent cavities.
- It Can Decrease Tooth Sensitivity
Have you had your teeth whitened recently? The increase of saliva flow as a result of chewing gum helps to minimize tooth sensitivity. A study was published in the British Dental Journal that shows the significance of chewing gum after a whitening procedure like Opalescence.
While chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to help protect your teeth from cavities, decay, and sensitivity, it is not an adequate replacement for brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Use chewing gum as a supplement to your oral hygiene routine.
Anderson & Atkins Dentistry is committed to helping you and your family have healthy teeth and gums. If you have questions about our practice or want to make sure you’re on the right track to having a healthy mouth, contact us today.