The Easiest Way to Help your Teeth: Chew GumMarch 9, 2020 6:45 am
Did you know 100,00 tonnes of chewing gum are consumed every year?
And that chewing gum can help keep your teeth healthy?
That might sound crazy, but studies show that chewing gum can actually reduce tooth decay.
How does it work?
It’s all thanks to saliva. A chewing action encourages your mouth to produce saliva, which has great benefits. First, it helps clean the mouth of food and plaque. This is a good thing because leftover food in the mouth can react with bacteria to produce acid. Acid erodes tooth enamel over time, creating cavities. Saliva also contains the nutrients calcium, bicarbonate and phosphate, which all neutralise acid, as well as reversing early tooth damage. By breaking this cycle between bacteria and acid, chewing stops plaque forming on the teeth, and actually leaves teeth stronger. So the more saliva – the better!
How much good does chewing do?
Chewing increases saliva production by 10 times, according to the American Dental Hygienist Association. The same study says that chewing for 20 mins a day after eating or drinking can reduce tooth decay by up to 40%. Chewing has the great benefit of freshening your breath too.
What kind of gum?
You can’t just choose any gum. You need to check the ingredients to be sure your gum is truly sugar-free. If you chew gum containing sugar, you’ll actually encourage tooth decay rather than avoid it – and the more sugar in the mouth, the more harmful bacteria and acid will develop. The gum shouldn’t contain sucrose or glucose either.
The role of xylitol
Sugar-free gum will often contain xylitol. Xylitol is a type of sweetener (made from birch bark) that doesn’t contain sugar – and it has another benefit for your teeth. Studies have shown it stops the growth of a type of bacteria called streptococcus mutans, preventing the bacteria from sticking to teeth and forming plaque. It all helps in the battle against tooth decay. You may also come across sorbitol and mannitol, which are both sweeteners that don’t contain any sugar. You can find sugar-free gum in nearly any shop or supermarket – whichever gum you opt for, make sure it is ADA-approved.
The easy way to keep teeth clean
Gum is a great way to clean your teeth when a toothbrush and paste isn’t to hand, or just isn’t practical. Try to chew as soon as you can after eating. It also makes sense to avoid sugary food and drink in the first place – avoid fizzy drinks (even if they say sugar free) and fruit juice. Fresh juice might sound healthy, but it’s actually a concentrated dose of sugar – bad for your teeth, and for your blood sugar levels too.
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