When chewing gum throughout the day, most people don’t really think about whether it’s helpful or harmful to their teeth. Plenty of chewing gum companies promote the benefits of their products, but how accurate is this really? It turns out that it could depend on the type of gum you have.
Chewing gum that contains sugar increases your chances of developing cavities, but sugar-free gum could actually achieve the opposite. With mouth cleaning properties, chomping on some minty fresh gum throughout the day could contribute to good oral health.
The benefits of sugar-free gum for your oral health
Put simply, popping some sugar-free gum in your mouth throughout the day stimulates the production of saliva. This helps to wash away acid, sugar and leftover food that can turn into plaque. Over time, plaque can eventually cause cavities and tooth decay, so regular chewing doesn’t only give your breath a boost, but could also help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after consuming food or drink can increase the flow of saliva and help replace minerals lost by acidity in foods. So, you can lower the amount of acid that attacks the teeth and reduce the risk of tooth erosion.
How sugar-free gum can reduce bacteria
Some sugar-free chewing gum is sweetened with something called xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar substitute that can help to reduce bacteria and keep your mouth clean. Xylitol actually inhibits the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, by stopping the bacteria from adhering to the teeth. With continued use over time, the types of bacteria in the mouth change and less bacteria can survive on the tooth surfaces.
Can sugar-free gum whiten your teeth?
Many chewing gums claim to have a “whitening” effect. While these products cannot change the natural shade of your teeth, they may be able to reduce staining caused by drinking coffee or red wine, or smoking.
These effects are minimal and usually short-term, and sugar-free gum isn’t a substitute for professional teeth whitening.
Does this mean you still need to brush your teeth?
Absolutely! While sugar-free gum can help to keep your mouth clean, it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your oral health routine. You should still brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily with dental floss or interdental brushes.
If you’re unable to brush your teeth immediately after a meal, we recommend chewing sugar-free gum instead. This can help to break down any harmful bacteria until you’re able to properly brush your teeth, but remember that gum cannot reach in between your teeth like brushing and flossing can.
Call us to book an appointment
Keep your teeth and gums healthy with proper oral hygiene measures and visits to the dentist twice a year. If you’re due an appointment, or have any concerns about your smile, get in touch with the team at King Street Dental. You can reach us on (03) 8842 4506 or [email protected] and we can book you in with one of our experienced dentists.