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Sugar Free Gum: A Cavity Fighter?

August 8th, 2017

Sugar Free Gum: A Cavity Fighter?

Sugar Free Gum: A Cavity Fighter?

You can't go past a cash register in a convenience store, pharmacy or grocery store without running into a display rack of chewing gum. It's a perennial American favorite. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American consumes 1.8 pounds of gum each year. You might believe that chewing gum can cause damage to your teeth, but the surprising truth is that there’s gum that can do your teeth some good! These are just a few of the benefits of sugar free gum:

Prevent Cavities:
Sugarless gum refreshes your breath on the go, but it can also be a handy way to fend off cavities. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) reports that studies show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can prevent tooth decay. It works by boosting the flow of saliva in your mouth, which washes away food and neutralizes acids. The saliva also contains additional calcium and phosphate to support the strengthening of enamel. Gums containing sugar also increase saliva flow, but plague bacteria uses the sugar to produce acidic byproducts. Choose a sugar free version for your best chance at countering cavities with gum.

Sweet for Your Teeth:
Chewing gum is even more effective at preventing cavities if it contains a sugar replacement called Xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that some studies have shown can reduce the number of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. Since Xylitol, unlike sugar, is unsuitable as fuel for these organisms, the number of bacteria decreases, leaving your mouth a safer place for your teeth.

Strengthen Enamel:
Fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash are the top products to strengthen teeth. Did you know that sugarless gum has a similar effect? When you chew a sugar free gum sweetened with xylitol, the acids left behind on your teeth from foods and drinks are reduced, according to the ADA. The gum also promotes healthy teeth and prevents enamel erosion by supplying minerals to your teeth. With stronger enamel, your teeth have a better chance at dodging decay and cavities. Some gum manufacturers are beginning to add a substance called casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) to their products. CPP-ACP, more commonly known by its trademarked name Recaldent, is said to re-mineralize and harden tooth enamel, making your teeth stronger and less likely to suffer from tooth decay.
Reduce Tooth Sensitivity:
Another major plus for sugar free gum is that it can reduce tooth sensitivity caused by teeth whitening. According to a study, patients who chewed sugarless gum after having their teeth whitened had significantly less tooth sensitivity compared to study participants who did not chew gum. Researchers pinpointed the increase in saliva flow from the act of chewing as a likely cause of this benefit.

Helpful Hints:
When you decide to buy gum at the grocery checkout, look for a sugarless gum that carries the ADA seal on the package. That way, you know you can trust that the gum is safe and effective. If products carry this seal, the associated companies are required to verify the claims made on their packaging, such as those regarding the remineralization of teeth and the reduction of plaque and gingivitis. A trustworthy sugar free gum can freshen breath and fight cavities, but don't neglect your oral hygiene regimen. Although it is a handy on-the-go trick, chewing sugarless gum should never replace flossing and brushing with a toothbrush. These habits can effectively banish plaque and keep the cavities at bay.

To Chew Or Not to Chew:
Although chewing sugar-free gum can be beneficial in most instances, there are some cases in which chewing gum is not recommended. For example, if you are experiencing any type of jaw pain or temporomandibular disorder symptoms (TMD/TMJ), you should refrain from chewing gum and talk to your dentist about what options are available to you. For most people, chewing sugar-free gum (especially gum sweetened with xylitol) can be a good preventive measure in situations when tooth brushing and flossing aren't practical. However, sugar-free or not, chewing gum should never replace good dental hygiene practices.

If you have any questions about sugar free gun and your teeth, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist – 716-332-2444.

 


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