Your mother may have told you that chewing gum will make your teeth fall out. She was partly right. Sugared gum is linked to high incidents of tooth decay. But, your mother might be surprised to know that sugarfree gum actually inhibits decay.
Let’s talk about how it works.
Sugarfree gum stimulates the flow of saliva.
Saliva plays an important role in your oral health. You may know that it initiates digestion with enzymes, but did you know it also acts as a lubricant, an antimicrobial and cleansing agent, and a buffer against acidity? It does, and sugarfree gum stimulates the flow of saliva so you have more. During the 20 minutes or so that you are chewing your gum, you’re also prolonging an increased saliva production, which in turn, increases its ability to clear sugars and acids from around your teeth.
While sugared gum also increases your saliva flow, the difference is that sugared gum is simultaneously bathing your teeth in sugar, which is used by plaque to produce decay-causing acids. The saliva produced by sugarfree gum helps to buffer the acids rather than create more.
Sugar Free gum helps control your plaque pH.
Dental plaque is a bacteria that grows on surfaces within your mouth. There’s no way to prevent it entirely, and it’s the reason you must brush and floss daily. Sugar Free gum helps control the acidity levels in your saliva. A normal range of pH (a scale of acidity or alkalinity) in saliva is 6 to 7. On the pH scale, 7 and under is acidic, and anything greater than 7 is alkaline or basic. Plaque flourishes between 6.7 and 8.3. Sugar Free gum is linked to a rise in plaque pH, which means more alkalinity, less acidity. This greatly increases your saliva’s buffering power against food acids.
Sugared gum, on the other hand, is linked to a fall in pH levels, which means more acidity. And, as you may have guessed by now, more acid means more decay.
Sugar Free gum can help fight cavities.
Unlike sugared gums, which are sweetened with sucrose and produce decay-causing acids, sugarfree gum leads to a reduction in the acid-forming abilities of plaque. Studies have shown that those who chew sugarfree gum have fewer incidents of tooth decay than those who do not chew gum at all – not just those who chew sugared gum. In other words, sugarfree gum isn’t just beneficial because it lacks sucrose. Instead, sugarfree gum actively fights against the conditions that cause decay.
Tips and suggestions:
Chewing sugarfree gum shortly after eating maximizes its benefits. The additional saliva production at this time helps to neutralize the acids and wash away the sugars in the foods you’ve just eaten.
Remember that chewing sugar free gum can be a beneficial addition to your dental hygiene practices. By no means should it be a replacement for daily brushing and flossing.
For more information about oral health, oral hygiene, family or cosmetic dentistry, please contact us at Soft Touch Dental. We’re more than happy to answer your questions.