We often see ads about chewing gum, helping you maintain better oral health, especially if you chew them after having a meal. But, is this true? Every statement has two sides to it, and this is quite true in the case of chewing gum too. It all comes down to the type of chewing gum you choose that makes a difference in whether it helps or harms your teeth.
A few clinical studies have proven that frequent chewing of gum containing sugar can increase your chances of developing cavities and other oral infections. Chewing gum containing sugar leaves a sugary residue on the teeth, which becomes food for the microbes in the mouth. This can promote the formation of cavities and gum diseases.
On the other hand, sugar-free gum helps to improve oral health by rinsing off and neutralizing the acids released by the microbes in the mouth, thus preventing any damage to the enamel or the soft gum tissues. Also, sugar-free gum promotes saliva production, which washes away the food debris in the mouth and keeps the teeth clean for longer.
Many brands of sugar-free gum contain a sweetener called Xylitol, which is an alternative to sugar. However, Xylitol does more than giving the gum a sweet taste. It inhibits the growth of oral bacteria and prevents them from adhering to the teeth surfaces. With regular chewing of gum containing Xylitol, the microbes in the mouth die down, and very few types of harmful bacteria survive on the teeth.
Although thorough brushing and flossing of the teeth are the best means to avoid bad breath, chewing mint or fruit-flavored gum can provide temporary relief from it. It would be advisable to chew sugar-free gum right after having a meal, especially if the meal contains garlic, onions, or other foods that can give you a nasty breath.
Chewing gum can be advantageous to your oral health, but only if you choose the right type. And of course, don’t rely too much on it and ignore brushing and flossing, as they are the primary barrier against the microbes in your mouth.
Call us at (701) 293-9886 or schedule an online appointment with our dentists at our office in Fargo, ND.