Chewing gum has been around in one form or another since ancient civilization. In Sweden, scientists discovered 9,000-year-old birch bark tar with the dental impressions of both children and adults. Ancient Greeks chewed mastic over 2,000 years ago, and Native American Indigenous People passed their love of chewing spruce gum to early American settlers in the 1600s.
Chewing gum is as old as America and us!
Is Chewing Gum Good for Me?
There’s something to be said for fresh breath, but is it really good for your oral health? According to the Oral Health Foundation, the answer is yes, so long as it’s sugar-free. It seems these pioneers were on to something! Let’s look at the benefits of sugar-free gum.
Benefits of Chewing
Sugar-free gum protects your teeth between your morning and evening brushing, flossing, and rinsing routine. Acidic and sugary foods can sit on your teeth, creating plaque, a bacteria that will eat away the enamel and put your oral health at risk.
Chewing sugar-free gum produces extra saliva, rinsing away the plaque bacteria and leaving your mouth healthier. Saliva also helps protect your teeth from acid erosion after certain foods or drinks. Even better, chewing lessens bad breath and dry mouth! Bad breath and dry mouth are both often caused by reduced saliva in the mouth, and as you already know, chewing gum solves that problem quickly. All that extra saliva works hard!
How to Choose the Best Chewing Gum
You might wonder how to choose the best chewing gum for optimal oral health and when you should chew it. Check the gum package and look for the word “Xylitol.” This is a natural sweetener found in many foods you already enjoy, such as fruits and veggies. It’s also found in that same substance that people chewed millennia ago, birch bark.
Xylitol provides a bit of sweetness to your gum, and it’s been proven to reduce tooth decay and even replace some of that enamel you may have lost over time by providing the necessary minerals. It’s best to chew gum after eating, and chewing for twenty minutes will give you the most significant benefit. However, don’t overindulge. Excessive consumption of xylitol can cause diarrhea.
Note for pet owners: If you have dogs, keep anything with xylitol in it away from your furry companions. This sweetener is highly toxic to dogs.
Gum sweetened with aspartame is okay to encourage saliva production, but we recommend not chewing it every day. Researchers suspect aspartame promotes the development of diabetes and obesity. Try to avoid chewing gum with sugar altogether.
Our entire crew at Danville Family Dentistry is committed to helping people of all ages have good oral health. If you have questions about which gum is best or how to take care of your teeth, call us today at 317-745-4400 to make an appointment.
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.