After a meal, using a sugar-free chewing gum can help preventing tooth decay and protecting the tooth enamel.
Interestingly, even though the previous sentence sounds like an ad for chewing gums, countless scientific studies have proven that using a chewing gum is good for keeping our mouth healthy. Among others, the American Dental Association and the British Dental Association agree that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating helps preventing tooth decay. In addition, the European Union, which has the strictest food safety and health regulations, has officially allowed xylitol, the most common sweetener in sugarless chewing gums, to be advertised as a “tooth-friendly” ingredient.
Why is it important that the gum we chew is sugar-free?
As mentioned in an earlier post, as sugar mixes with the bacteria in our mouths, it becomes acidic and damages our tooth enamel or even the deeper layers of our teeth. Acids are the real enemies of our teeth because they break down hydroxyapatite, the most important mineral in our tooth enamel. When we eat sugary chewing gum, our teeth are constantly exposed to an intense sugar attack that lasts much longer than let’s say a bite of chocolate.
How does sugar-free chewing gum help our teeth?
Chewing a gum increases saliva production, so if exaggerated, it can cause nausea. But chewing for a limited time (20 minutes), the increased salivation helps to clean our teeth. Our saliva dilutes and neutralizes the acids that are formed in the mouth as bacteria begin to break down the food we eat. Using a chewing gum for 20 minutes is recommended because the acids stay in the mouth for about that long after eating.
The health of the mouth is not fixed with a pack of chewing gum
Unpleasant side effects of excessive use of chewing gums can include abdominal pain and nausea, as well as rapid wear and tear on the cartilage in our jaws. Less is more, so it is not recommended to exaggerate with chewing gums. According to experts, using chewing gums can be a part of a healthy daily oral care routine, but it should not be a substitute for brushing teeth twice a day.