Does chewing gum actually cut down on bacteria and help prevent cavities? Before you forsake gum forever or hop on the chewing bandwagon, here is some information about gum and how it relates to your oral health:
Multiple studies have been conducted to determine gum's role in oral hygiene. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), chewing gum can be considered a healthy dental habit.
There are actually brands of gum that boast the ADA seal of approval, so if you have a hankering for something to chew, keep an eye out for a package of gum with the ADA seal. According to the experts, people can help to clean their mouth by chewing sugar-free gum right after mealtimes.
How Does Gum Help Your Oral Health?
It is important for the gum to be sugarless and for you to chew it right after eating. You don't need to chew all day long; just 20 minutes after you eat should be enough to reap the benefits.
Gum-chewing helps to stimulate more saliva in the mouth to wash away food particles and excess oral bacteria. As a result, it can help prevent the build-up of tartar and plaque. While you are chewing, salivary production is increased to balance bacteria-produced acids, and the stickiness of the gum dislodges pieces of food from between the teeth.
Read the Fine Print
Finally, before you run to the nearest convenience store and stock up on some gum, there are some important things to keep in mind. There are some chemical ingredients in certain brands of chewing gum that are not in others. Ingredients such as sorbitol, aspartame, xylitol, and mannitol are often used as a substitute for sugar. On one hand, replacing sugar could be a good thing because it lessens your chances of tooth decay. On the other hand, chemicals like aspartame have been linked to the destruction of neurons in the brain. Excess aspartame can be detrimental for those with chronic diseases.
In addition, sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and mannitol may cause diarrhea when consumed in excess.
Still, xylitol, which is actually a naturally occurring sweetener, offers the additional benefit of having antibacterial properties.
Chewing sugarless gum can be a helpful addition to your oral health regimen. However, proper brushing and flossing, a varied diet rich in nutrients and regular visits with your dentist can never be replaced. To determine the current state of your teeth and gums, schedule an appointment with your local dentist for a check-up.
For a family dentist, contact a dentist such as David Semrau, DDS.