Do Any Chewing Gums Really Help My Teeth?
Chewing gum has existed in one form or another for a very long time. The ancient Greeks chewed sap from the mastic cree, called mastiche. The Mayans also chewed sap, but theirs came from the sapodilla tree, and it was called tsiclte. These days, chewing gum is typically made from synthetic materials, but chewing gum is still extremely popular. Did you know that certain types of chewing gum are actually good for your teeth?
One of the main reasons why chewing gum is beneficial is because the physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. If you chew after a meal, the increased flow can help buffer and wash away the bacterial acids produced on your teeth. These acids are what can cause your tooth enamel to break down over time, which leads to tooth decay. Studies show that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent this decay.
Also, sugar-free gums that contain a sugar replacement called Xylitol are even more effective at preventing cavities. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that, unlike sugar, cannot be digested by the bacteria on your teeth As a result, the number of bacteria decreases, leaving your teeth much cleaner and less prone to decay.
When you’re in the store, look for these key items on the packaging:
- It’s sugar-free. Sugar counteracts any benefit from the chewing, so this one’s a must.
- It has xylitol. Although any sugarless gum helps, the xylitol makes it a little more potent in the fight against cavities.
- It has the ADA seal. This means that the gum has undergone tests and it has been scientifically proven that it can protect your teeth.
Chewing gum can be helpful in protecting your teeth, but it does not replace brushing and flossing. The ADA recommends that you brush at least twice daily and floss at least once to really remove the harmful bacteria. Also, no oral care program is complete without regular visits to your dentist.
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