Most people chew gum to combat bad breath. But can chewing gum actually help your teeth? Brushing and flossing will never be replaced, but if you want to strengthen your cavity-fighting efforts, chewing sugar-free gum throughout the day may be your next initiative. The American Dental Association (ADA), the world’s premier authority on dental related issues, recently began recommending sugarless chewing gum as a way to fight cavities. Endorsed by the highest authority in dentistry, it’s hard to deny the positive effects sugar-free gum can have on your teeth. Here’s what you need to know:
What is Chewing Gum?
Chewing gum in various forms appeared anciently. The Greeks chewed a tree sap called mastiche. Ancient Mayans favored a sap called tsiclte. Native Americans in New England chewed spruce sap—and passed the habit on to European settlers. Most gum products today blend synthetic materials (elastomers, resins and waxes) to create their own original recipe. Chewing gum today is as popular as ever, and while some consumers view chewing gum as a kind of candy, the ADA endorses chewing gum that has scientifically demonstrated tooth protection benefits.
What does chewing gum do?
Chewing alone increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. Chewing gum after a meal will increase salivary flow which helps neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth. This acid can break down tooth enamel over time, creating an environment for decay. Additionally, increased saliva flow carries with it more calcium and phosphate which can strengthen tooth enamel.
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating can help prevent tooth decay. In the future, look for sugarless chewing gum that has the ADA Seal. Some gums have more tooth-strengthening agents than others. Gum sweetened using real sugar has never earned the ADA seal because while all chewing stimulates the flow of saliva, the presence of sugar promotes the formation of plaque.
Can Chewing Gum Replace Brushing or Flossing?
While chewing gum promotes teeth protection, the benefits are not strong enough to compete with or replace brushing and flossing. Chewing gum enhances your efforts against tooth decay rather than replacing them. At Platinum Dental, our dentists know which chewing gum brands offer the active ingredients most important to your oral health, and can recommend which gum may be best for you. Your teeth will thank you.