Makers of sugar-free gum often tout the fact that their gum is approved by the American Dental Association, but does this mean that dentists think it’s a good idea to chew sugar-free gum, or just believe that it is the lesser evil of two options? The truth may surprise you: chewing gum can actually be good for your teeth. Let us explain.
The up and down chewing action increases saliva flow in your mouth, washing away harmful acids that can break down tooth enamel and eventually lead to tooth decay. These harmful acids are especially present after meals due to the fact that they form from food particles stuck in the teeth. Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for about 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent tooth decay by helping to eliminate these food particles and deterring subsequent destruction. These acids and bacterias can also be cleaned out during a routine teeth cleaning by your local dentist, but sugar-free gum to help keep them at bay temporarily. In addition, an increase in saliva also helps to carry more calcium and phosphate to your teeth, strengthening enamel in the mouth.
It is likely that you have seen the ADA seal of approval on some packages of gum. The seal doesn’t just mean that the gum won’t harm your teeth; it means it actually has been shown to help them. The ADA gives its seal to brands of gum that have been shown by scientific studies to be effective in reducing acid or reducing cavities or gingivitis.
Only sugar-free gums have ever been given the ADA seal. It is the chewing action, not the actual lack of sugar, which makes gum beneficial to oral health. Chewing gum with sugar would reduce acid too, but sugar helps increase the formation of acid.
Though gum-chewing can help protect tooth enamel and reduce the chance of decay, it’s no substitute for brushing and flossing. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing is important, but chewing gum after meals could be a good addition to your daily routine to help keep your oral health in top shape.