Get a Lot of Cavities? Start Chewing Gum!
The short answer is yes – chewing gum can help reduce your risk of dental decay. But why? There are a few answers to this question. We all know sugar is bad for our teeth. We also know it has become a normal part of the average modern diet.
It’s in everything – the obvious ones like soda and candy – but it’s also in many unexpected foods like bread and pasta. The same bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay also feed on sugar. The more sugar you eat, the more decay you’re likely to have.
Sugar-free sweeteners have become increasingly popular as people try to cut sugar out of their diets. Xylitol, a popular sugar-free sweetener, has been found to have excellent benefits for your mouth. Many types of sugar-free gum contain Xylitol, not only for the flavor but also because it has been proven to reduce the level of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Trident, Dentyne, Extra, Mentos, Eclipse and Orbit brands all offer sugarless options. Check the label to make sure it’s sugarless. Most brands will show the ADA seal of approval for sugar-free gum. Many times, you won’t even be able to tell a difference in taste thanks to sweeteners like Xylitol!
Xerostomia is the condition of “dry mouth,” which is associated with increased risk for dental decay. Aside from higher risk of decay, dry mouth can also cause difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking. Severe dry mouth can be a side effect of medications or the result of cancer treatments like radiation of the head and neck, which adversely affects the salivary glands. It can also be caused by smoking and dehydration.
Chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands and helps keep your mouth from becoming too dry. In addition, if you suffer from severe dry mouth, ask your dentist for other options. There are lozenges and sprays that are available from the dentist that are specially formulated to fight dry mouth.
If you have pets, make sure to keep sugar-free gum out of their reach. Even a small amount of certain types of sugar-free gum, especially those with Xylitol, can be toxic to pets.
For more tips on how to improve your oral health, see our website FAQ page!