Gina Liggio Maestri, DDS

Dental Blog

Chewing Gum: Sugar-free Edition

Hannah Johnson - Thursday, August 08, 2019 - 


Chewing gum offers many benefits related to tooth and mouth care, but has also been shown to improve memory, reduce stress & anxiety, and help with weight loss. When choosing a pack of gum to chew on throughout the day, it’s extremely beneficial to choose one that is sugar-free and contains Xylitol.

 
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar that you can find in fibrous plants, fruits, and vegetables. Xylitol offers many positive benefits and overall healthy effects for teeth such as preventing cavities and strengthening enamel.
 
 
How does one get their fair share of Xylitol?
Xylitol is found in some toothpastes and mouthwash, but it is most commonly found in sugar-free chewing gums! A quick Google search can let you know which gums contain Xylitol, but some of our favorites are Trident and Orbit.


 
So what exactly does Xylitol do?
Xylitol decreases the amount of plaque formed after eating and limits the amount of bacteria that adhere to teeth. As we eat, the sugars in our food & drink, as well as bacteria, cause acid production. Because your teeth are more at risk of an acid attack after a meal, chewing gum helps the mouth produce more saliva, which is the natural defense against acid. If you’re stuck at the office or out running errands, it may be hard to brush your teeth after a meal. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can help protect your teeth and gums because the saliva washes away foods and neutralizes acids. Don’t look at chewing gum as the alternative to brushing teeth, however. You still should brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and don’t forget to floss!


 
Why is it helpful to chew sugar-free gum after a meal?
According to the American Dental Association, chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal can prevent tooth decay. Not only does sugar-free gum aid in preventing cavities and all around keeping your teeth clean, but it has also been shown to reduce tooth sensitivity! If that’s not enough reason to chew sugar-free gum, it’s also a great way to freshen your breath!


 
Can I still chew sugar-free gum if I have braces?
The short answer is yes! Just make sure the gum is sugar free and make sure to check the American Dental Association’s approved list of sugar-free gum. Also, consult your dentist or orthodontist before chewing gum, just to be safe!
 
 
While it’s always good to treat yourself to dessert after a meal every now and then, reaching for a pack of your favorite sugar free gum may be the better option!

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