Did you know human beings have been chewing gum since they figured out how to scrape tree resin into a little ball to put in their mouth? Gum chewing has come a long way, and there are dozens of packs to choose from on the impulse rack when go to check out at your local grocery. However, your Las Vegas cosmetic dentist, Dr. Hadley, would suggest that buying gum impulsively isn’t the best idea because chewing the right kind of gum can actually benefit your teeth.
How Does Gum Help My Teeth?
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends chewing gum to increase saliva flow in the mouth. Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum after eating will help wash away acids that will stick to the teeth and corrode them. It also helps wash away bacteria and loosens food particles that can stick even between the teeth and cause decay.
Your saliva is actually a cool tool for bathing your teeth in fluoride, which you get from drinking tap water and brushing your teeth. That fluoride recirculates in your saliva so the benefits are systemic. Too, increasing your saliva flow brings more calcium and phosphate into the mouth to help build up tooth enamel.
The ADA cites clinical studies that show chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating can help stop tooth decay. Some gums even enhance this effect by adding enhancers to help stop gingivitis or plague. Look for the ADA seal of approval on the next pack of gum you buy; if it’s there it means it’s been given two thumbs up by dentists as a way to help stop cavities. These companies have been through a vetting process by the ADA, so you can trust the seal of approval.
What’s the Scoop on Sugarless Gum?
Sugarless gum typically contains sweeteners that do not cause cavities, such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, or aspartame. While chewing gums with sugar can also increase saliva production in the mouth, you don’t want to bathe your teeth in sugar after meals, right? Here’s a break down of the non-sugar sweeteners in your favorite sugar-free gum:
- Xylitol is made from plants. It doesn’t break down like a sugar would, which is great news if you are diabetic.
- Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol derived from fruit.
- Mannitol is colorless and sweet and is found in many plants.
- Aspartame is the most common artificial sweetener on the market. Its brand name is NutraSweet and Equal. It’s made by combining two amino acids, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine.
You may have heard about aspartame; there is controversy surrounding this supplement. The American Cancer Society devotes a whole page on their website related to the debate over whether this sweetener causes cancer. Their conclusion is that more research should happen, but aspartame does not cause cancer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agrees.
Too, it’s important to note that it isn’t the sugarless additives like xylitol, which help prevent tooth decay. It’s the action of chewing that produces more saliva to help your teeth.
So we guess chewing tree resin really could work just as well.