Choose Your Gum Wisely
When it comes to chewing gum and your oral health, not all gum is created equal. Depending on the type of gum you choose, you can either harm your teeth or help them. Gum that contains sugar can obviously wreak havoc on those pearly whites, creating the perfect breeding ground for a cavity to form. However, there are plenty of sugar-free gum choices that have shown clinical evidence in preventing dental problems and facilitating a healthy mouth. Consider chewing sugar-free gum as a bonus to your oral hygiene routine but never allow gum to substitute for daily brushing and flossing.
How does it work? Chewing a stick of sugar-free gum after meals can be a great way to help rinse off plaque and neutralize acids on your teeth after meals. In doing so, sugar free gum can protect your tooth enamel. The physical act of chewing as well as the flavor of your gum will induce a significant increase in saliva flow inside your mouth. A saliva flow of up to ten times more than normal is common while chewing sugar-free gum. Abundant saliva aids in neutralizing harmful acids in your mouth and rinsing away food particles easily.
If you want to really choose the best gum for your teeth, you can take it one step further. Sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol has the added bonus of stopping the growth of Streptococcus mutans, which is a common oral bacteria that causes cavities. Xylitol will help prevent the cavity-causing bacteria from adhering to your teeth and is a great option for chronic gum chewers. It is important to know that although chewing sugar-free or xylitol gum can help prevent cavities, people with jaw disorders like TMJ will reap more consequences than benefits from chewing gum.
The next time you find yourself without a toothbrush or floss after finishing a meal, reach for a stick of sugar-free gum. Your mouth will thank you in more ways than one.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates