Many enjoy the refreshing taste of a piece of mint flavored chewing gum. It keeps you occupied as you go through your day and it keeps your breath feeling fresh. Well, gum chewers, it appears as though there may be an oral health benefit to this habit; clinical studies supported by the American Dental Association have shown that chewing sugarless (this is key!) gum for 20 minutes after meals can help fend off tooth decay.
Because choosing the correct chewing gum is crucial for reaping these benefits, Chesapeake dentist Dr. John Cranham would like to offer some insight on this topic. Watch this short ADA video:
Chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which has a number of positive effects on your oral health. Saliva washes away residual food debris, neutralizes the acidity of certain foods and beverages, and coats the mouth with disease-fighting substances. Saliva also carries calcium and phosphate, which are vitally important for strengthening tooth enamel.
As a rule, always look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval when selecting your new favorite sugarless gum. Without the ADA seal, you cannot be sure that the gum is truly sugarless and it could end up causing cavities rather than preventing them. Truly sugarless gum contains non-cavity causing sweeteners such as xylitol, sorbitol, or mannitol rather than true sugar.
This goes without saying, but chewing sugarless gum is not a substitute for good oral hygiene practices; it is purely a supplementary method for preventing tooth decay. The ADA still recommends twice yearly preventive dental care, flossing regularly and brushing twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
If you have any questions regarding sugarless gum or need help finding an ADA-approved toothpaste, please feel free to discuss it with Dr. Cranham during your next visit!
Posted in: oral hygiene habits