When Chewing Gum is Beneficial
Your after-lunch stick of gum may do more than freshen your breath. A recent study found that chewing sugar-free gum for just 10 minutes could destroy up to 10 percent of the oral bacteria living in your mouth. According to a study that appeared in “PLOS One” by Holland’s University of Groningen, sugar-free gum could be almost as effective as flossing your teeth.
The researchers chewed gum for various amounts of time. After 10 minutes, they tested their mouths for bacteria before and after chewing the gum and found that 100 million bacteria were removed from their mouths. Chewing longer was not found to be more beneficial and could, in fact, redeposit bacteria around the gums. Additionally, the benefits were only found in sugar-free gum.
Gum works several ways to combat oral bacteria. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has been found to reduce the risk of cavities by 70 percent. When you eat, oral bacteria consume the sugars in the foods you eat and release acids that attack dental enamel. The xylitol neutralizes these acids. The act of gum chewing stimulates saliva flow, and the saliva further dilutes acids and helps remineralize teeth.
Chewing gum will not replace good dental hygiene habits, but it can be a valuable addition to your current routine. Grab a stick of sugar-free gum after snacks or meals when you cannot brush, and throw it away after 10 minutes. Brush twice a day, floss daily and visit us about every six months. Call us today to learn more or to schedule your next dental cleaning.
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