Contrary to everything you learned as a child, chewing gum (the right kind) can actually reduce tooth decay! Washington, DC Dentist Dr. Andrew C. Cobb recommends only sugar free gum that has the ADA seal of approval on the label.
Studies have shown that chewing sugar free gum for up to 20 minutes after meals can help prevent tooth decay. Increasing the flow of saliva, washing away food, and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, sugar free gum is a great way to increase your oral hygiene. These acids destroy tooth enamel over time, which is why it’s important to brush at least twice a day.
In addition to preventing cavities, sugar free gum also helps strengthen enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity. Look for gum with the first active ingredient xylitol – the xylitol in sugar free gum stays behind on teeth and reduces acids from foods and drinks. This promotes healthy teeth by supplying minerals to the teeth, ultimately preventing enamel erosion. The increase in saliva from chewing gum also reduces tooth sensitivity, particularly sensitivity caused by teeth whitening. In addition, some people experience improved concentration and cognitive performance, and less daytime sleepiness from chewing gum.
Those with TMD (temporomandibular disorder) symptoms such as jaw pain, loose dental work, metal braces, or gastrointestinal issues should stick to brushing after meals instead of chewing gum to avoid aggravating symptoms or damaging dental appliances.
Of course, chewing gum with sugar has the opposite effect – leaving sugar and bacteria on your teeth, which leads to tooth decay- so choose your gum wisely.
It is important to note that chewing sugar free gum should never replace daily tooth brushing and flossing, but be considered an added layer of protection for your teeth.
Don’t forget to visit our Washington, DC dentist office at least twice a year for preventive dental care, including a professional dental cleaning and exam to look for developing problems. Keeping your mouth healthy plays an important role in maintaining good physical health and well being.