October is National Dental Hygiene Month, which is the perfect time to spread awareness on good oral hygiene practices, including brushing, flossing, rinsing, and possibly to your surprise, chewing gum! This may sound alarming because gum, like candy, is known to cause tooth decay. However, chewing sugarless gum after eating can be beneficial to your teeth for many reasons. This is particularly the case when chewing sugar-free gum that is sweetened with the ingredient xylitol.
Chewing sugarless gum helps wipe away leftover food particles and stimulates saliva secretion. As a result, the proteins and minerals within saliva help neutralize harmful acids made by the bacteria found within plaque. Some studies have shown that people who chew sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can help prevent cavities and strengthen tooth enamel.
A common ingredient in sugar-free gum is Xylitol (a natural sweetener), which helps blocks the growth of Streptococcus mutans, a common bacteria found in the mouth. This in turn helps prevent tooth decay. Some companies are starting to add casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP), also known as Recaldent, to their chewing gum. Recaldent has been found to remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel.
Chewing gum is especially important if you experiences dry mouth due to a lack of saliva production. Dry mouth is associated with several oral health problems, including gum swelling, bad breath, and periodontal disease. However, if you are having any symptoms of jaw pain or temporomandibular disorder symptoms (TMD/TMJ), chewing gum is typically not recommended and be sure to let your dentist know.
Even though there is no substitute for brushing, flossing, or rinsing, chewing sugar-free gum after meals can be a nice addition that will freshen breath and keep your mouth healthy!
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and their newest addition to the team, Dr. Zarah Ali, if you have any thoughts or concerns. Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Van. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other periodontal or oral surgery needs, Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.