Can Chewing Sugarless Gum Actually Benefit Your Dental Health?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), chewing sugarless gum may actually help keep your mouth healthy.

The research found that chewing gum containing xylitol, a sugar substitute, for 20 minutes following a meal can help prevent cavities.

Why does this happen?

The act of chewing produces saliva, and saliva is important for keeping your mouth healthy by neutralizing acids. It also helps fight diseases and removes food that is stuck in your teeth.

But why not just chew regular gum?

Although chewing does produce saliva, if you have gum that is full of sugars it will mix with the saliva and can spread cavity-causing bacteria. You want to make sure that you are buying gum that contains xylitol, as this sweetener does not spread the cavity-causing bacteria that sugary gum does. You can also view the ADA’s list of approved gums.

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It is important to remember that chewing sugarless gum is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Chewing sugarless gum can be an aid in fighting cavities, but proper dental hygiene and regular trips to the dentist are the best ways to fight against cavities, decay and gum disease.

If you are due for a cleaning or have any questions about the health of your mouth, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Aerni in Strongsville, OH.

Why Do People Seem to Get More Cavities As They Get Old?

Saliva is highly important for maintaining the acid/base balance in your mouth. Saliva is produced by salivary glands which we find in our cheeks and under the tongue. These glands create two types of saliva, serous saliva, and mucoid saliva.

Serous saliva is the wet and watery form and mucoid saliva is more thick and sticky. Mucoid saliva provides proteins that are key in the beginning stages of digesting our food. Serous saliva mostly creates chemicals to buffer your mouth.

As we get older, serous saliva production slowly decreases. When we do not have enough serous saliva, we experience xerostomia, also called dry mouth. Our mouths become more acidic as a result of dry mouth, and acidity is what causes tooth decay.

Xerostomia is also a result of things such as medication and chemotherapy. Because chemotherapy slows the multiplication of rapidly reproducing cells, the cells in the salivary gland are affected.

The best thing you can do for your mouth is to get regular dental exams and maintain proper at-home care, including brushing and flossing. The mouth goes through changes as we age, and your dentist can offer some advice to fight the effects of dry mouth which may include frequent fluoride treatments and fluoride toothpaste. 

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Are you concerned about cavities?

If you would like to learn more about cavity prevention and care for dry mouth, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Aerni to discuss what can be done to keep your mouth and teeth healthy.