Minty chewing gum freshens your breath and leaves your mouth feeling cleaner after chewing. But, did you know chewing sugar-free gum can provide real benefits for your oral health?
Why does chewing gum help with oral health?
Chewing sugar-free gum can be a good method to protect teeth between meals when you might not be able to brush. After eating, there is an increased amount of acid within the mouth. These periods of high acidity are when the teeth are most vulnerable to enamel erosion and cavities. The ADA reports that sugar-free gum aids in the production of saliva. Increased saliva production neutralises acids within the mouth and also helps clean away any food stuck in the mouth. This increase in saliva can reduce the effect of plaque, protecting against cavities and strengthening enamel.
Sugar-free gum is often sweetened with xylitol, a plant-based alternative to sugar. This natural sweetener, derived from plants and vegetables, has a similar texture and taste to sugar. However, it does not break down in the same way. Xylitol found in gum not only neutralises acidity but also reduces levels of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria cannot digest the substance, which means the levels are gradually reduced in turn helping to reduce plaque and improve your oral hygiene.
Which gum should I buy?
Next time you’re out and pick up some gum, remember to look out for dental association labels. This means the gum is approved by dentists and you will gain all of the benefits associated with chewing sugar-free gum. An example of this is Wrigley’s Extra, which has been approved by the Irish Dental Association and the Oral Health Foundation.
Importance of oral health care
While sugar-free chewing gum can help maintain a healthy mouth, it is very important to follow all oral health recommendations from your dentist. Chewing gum should never replace brushing and flossing twice a day, and excess sugary food and drink should be avoided.