I’ll admit, I am an avid gum chewer. Having a pack of Orbit peppermint flavored gum wherever I go is just as necessary as having my wallet and phone. So if you are like me and have a piece of gum in your mouth whenever you are not eating, then you might have wondered, is chewing gum good for my teeth? And my answer to you is…yes, but it depends.
It all comes down to the type of gum you chew. Obviously everyone has heard that chewing gum containing sugar can increase your chances of developing a cavity…duh. So always go for the most beneficial choice, sugar-free gum! Its advantages include:
- Cleans your teeth after a meal
- Stimulates saliva flow (necessary for protective function in the mouth!)
- Prevents tooth decay
- Reduces plaque build-up and gingivitis
- Freshens breath (always a plus)
Now doesn’t that sound great? Well just wait, it gets better. If you look at the list of ingredients on your sugar-free gum you will see fancy words that are hard to pronounce like sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, and xylitol. These are not just processed chemicals infused into your product like that Oreo you just ate, they are sugar alcohols that naturally sweeten the gum and give it flavor. Recent studies have revealed that these sweeteners might add some extra benefits to your sugar-free gum, xylitol in particular. I’ll explain….
So, tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars we eat and produce an acid that can eat away at our enamel. Xylitol is a sweetener that cannot be broken down by the bacteria in your mouth. It constipates them so they are unable to produce the harmful acid that attacks your teeth. Since the cavity-causing bacteria are unable to digest the xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced and it gives advantage to the “less bad” bacteria in your mouth. Pretty sweet stuff! (pun intended)
So go out there and get yourself some of that gum with xylitol on the label. Your teeth will thank you!
If you are looking for a dentist in the Triangle Area, give DurhamDDS a call! We offer a generous helping of dental services for patients of all ages. To set up an appointment call our office at 919-286-0779 or visit durhamdds.com for more information.