Chewing Gum

Chewing gum is believed to be the world’s most common habit, with about 100,000 tons of it being chewed each year. Although some people may find it annoying, there are also some benefits. Surprisingly, chewing gum can actually be helpful to your dental health. Chewing gum in various forms has been around since ancient times. The Greeks chewed sap from the mastic tree, called mastiche. On the other side of the world, the ancient Mayans favored the sap of the sapodilla tree called tsicite and the┬áNative Americans chewed the sap from the spruce tree. Today, the base used for most gum products is a blend of synthetic materials.

The physical act of chewing gum increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. If you chew gum after a meal, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria and plaque on your teeth. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, creating the conditions for decay. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen toth enamel. Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. And since gum is sticky, it can help remove leftover food particles from the areas of your mouth where particles could attract bacteria. It also helps remove sugar that has built up on the the surface of the teeth.

 

If you are going to chew gum, sugarless is the preferred choice. Gum without sugar provides the benefits of gum chewing without the risks. It is also important that you are choosing sugarless brands that are approved by the American Dental Association. Chewing gum that contains the natural sweetener xylitol has been show to fight cavities and tooth decay. It is a natural enemy of bacteria, as the bacteria has a difficult time sticking to teeth and creating plaque. Many sugar-free gums are sweetened with xylitol, so look for that on the label for an additional benefit of chewing gum.

 

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