Oral Health Buzz
Three Benefits of Sugar Free Gum
Margie Monin Dombrowski
You've seen the commercials: A good-looking couple locks lips because their chewing gum gives them not only minty breath but also an irresistible, perfect smile. If only it were that easy, you may think. Sugar free gum, however, can do more than freshen your breath; it can actually help improve your oral health. These are just a few benefits of sugarless gum.
Sugarless gum refreshes your breath on the go, but it can also be used as an alternative way to fend off cavities. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) reports that studies show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can prevent tooth decay. It works by boosting the flow of saliva in your mouth, which washes away food and neutralizes acids. The saliva also contains additional calcium and phosphate to support the strengthening of enamel. Gums containing sugar also increase saliva flow, but the sugar contained in them is used by plaque bacteria to produce acidic by-products. Stick with a sugar free version for your best bet in countering cavities with gum.
Fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash are the top products to strengthen teeth. Did you know that sugarless gum has a similar effect? When you chew a sugar free gum sweetened with xylitol, the acids left behind on your teeth from foods and drinks are reduced, according to the ADA. The gum also promotes healthy teeth and prevents enamel erosion by supplying minerals to your teeth. With stronger enamel, your teeth have a better chance against decay and cavities.
Reduce Tooth Sensitivity
Another major plus for sugar free gum is that it can reduce tooth sensitivity caused by in-office teeth whitening. According to a study published in the British Dental Journal, patients who chewed sugarless gum after having their teeth whitened had significantly less tooth sensitivity compared to study participants who did not chew gum. Researchers pinpointed the increase in saliva flow from the act of chewing as a likely cause of this benefit.
When you decide to buy gum at the grocery checkout, look for a sugarless gum that carries the ADA seal on the package. That way, you know you can trust that the gum is safe and effective. If products carry this seal, the associated companies are required to verify the claims made on their packaging, such as those regarding the remineralization of teeth and the reduction of plaque and gingivitis. A trustworthy sugar free gum can freshen breath and fight cavities, but don't neglect your oral hygiene regimen. Although it is a handy on-the-go trick, chewing sugarless gum should never replace flossing and brushing with a toothbrush such as Colgate® 360°®. These habits can effectively banish plaque and keep the cavities at bay.
Learn more about sugar free gum in the Colgate Oral Care resources.