Mom always warned about chewing gum. “It will rot your teeth!”
New evidence shows that chewing sugarless gum can help reduce the incidence of decay.
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals can help wash away the acids produced by bacterial plaque in your mouth. The act of chewing gum stimulates saliva which helps lubricate the mouth, neutralize acids and also carries calcium and phosphate which keep teeth mineralized.
Chewing sugarless gum can also help with dry mouth, a condition which many people suffer with. The implications of dry mouth lead to very sticky biofilm, or plaque, which can be very difficult to brush or floss away. This, in turn, contributes to tooth decay as well. There are different contributing factors in dry mouth including medications and some diseases as well.
Gum that is sweetened with Xylitol, in particular, has shown an effect of inhibiting plaque production and the capabilities of acid production of the plaque. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener. It is almost as sweet as table sugar but with 33% fewer calories.A great link for more information is:
Chewing gum does not replace brushing and flossing, however, and, it is should also be noted that chewing gum in excess can adversely affect the jaw muscles and TMJ. Moderation is key. You should continue to brush twice a day and floss daily. Having regular cleanings and exams is also important to help maintain your smile.
Kim is registered dental hygienist currently working at Seasons of Smiles in Camden, Maine. She graduated from University College in Bangor. She also holds an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration through the University of Southern Maine.