Chewing on a piece of gum is an easy and delicious way to refresh your smile on the go. However, sugarless gum can be so much more than a quick fix for bad breath. Studies suggest that this simple snack could help you lower your risk of tooth decay and keep your smile gleaming! Your Fort Smith dentist explains how this tasty, chewy treat can improve your oral health.
Cleaning Your Smile with Sugarless Gum
Saliva is your body’s natural defense against tooth decay. All throughout the day it washes over your teeth to rinse away plaque, bacteria, and the acids they produce. At the same time, it strengthens your enamel with important vitamins like calcium and phosphorus, fortifying them against decay. Chewing gum can stimulate up to ten times the normal rate of saliva flow in your mouth, boosting these benefits tremendously. However, unhealthy varieties of gum will simultaneously coat your mouth with sugar, which fuels the production of acids and increases your likelihood of cavities.
On the other hand, chewing sugarless gum can clear away the bacteria without feeding it. By increasing the saliva flow without extra sugars, the bacteria can be thoroughly washed away without any more cavity-causing acids being formed. All the extra saliva also dislodges and removes any lingering particles of food, which helps keep your pearly whites clean and healthy.
Decay-Causing Bacteria VS Xylitol
Sugar-free gum that is sweetened by xylitol can be even more beneficial. Xylitol hinders the growth of Streptococcus mutans, one of the oral bacteria responsible for causing cavities. When xylitol is present, the bacteria lose the ability to stick to the tooth, which prevents the harmful acid from reaching the enamel. In fact, studies indicate that prolonged xylitol use causes fewer decay-causing bacteria to survive on tooth surfaces.
What Does the American Dental Association Say?
Clinical testing conducted by the American Dental Association found that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating can prevent tooth decay. Thus, some sugar-free gum varieties have earned the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval. This Seal marks products that have been evaluated for efficiency and safety by an independent body of scientific experts.
While the ADA confirms that chewing sugarless gum is an effective way to remove plaque and bacteria, it is not recommended as a replacement for regular brushing and flossing. These tried-and-true habits are the only way to effectively remove plaque and bacteria from hard to reach places like your back molars and between your teeth. When combined with great dental hygiene, chewing sugar-free gum can be an excellent way to keep your smile healthy and fresh.
About the Author
Dr. Gilberto López of New Smile Dental in Fort Smith, AR has over 25 years of experience helping people achieve the happy, healthy smiles they deserve. He uses state-of-the-art dental technology to provide the most comfortable and effective experience possible, regardless of what treatment is needed. However, he fully understands that great oral health starts at home, which is why he and his friendly dental team are dedicated to patient education. If you’d like to learn more practical ways to keep your smile happy and healthy at home, feel free to contact him via his website or at (479) 434-4277.