Chewing gum has been around for thousands of years, dating back to ancient time. Most of us have been indulging in chewing gum since we were kids, as it is a sugary treat that we associate with candy. Have you ever stopped to think about how chewing gum affects your dental health?

You may be surprised to learn that chewing gum is actually beneficial to your overall oral health. However, you will only reap the benefits if you chew sugar-free gum. Regular chewing gum made with sugar can cause cavities, tooth decay and may even loosen or pull out tooth fillings. According to the American Dental Association, chewing sugar-free gum has proven to help protect teeth.

Here are a few reasons to ditch sugary gum and switch to sugar-free:

Helps to Prevent Tooth Decay

If you cannot brush and floss after a meal, popping a stick of sugar-free gum in your mouth is the next best thing. The act of chewing increases the flow of saliva, helping to wash away food particles that lead to the development of plaque and tartar. Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help to prevent tooth decay.

Aids in the Reminerailzation of Tooth Enamel

Keeping teeth strong is essential in preserving your natural smile. Over time, tooth enamel begins to weaken or demineralize (dissolving of the surface enamel) due to regular exposure to acids found in foods, sugary drinks and candy. Luckily, there are plenty of sugar-free gums available containing a sweetening agent called Xylitol that has been shown to remineralize (process of returning minerals to the tooth enamel) the tooth’s surface and helps to reduce cavities and plaque.

Helps to Relieve Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

Dry mouth is the feeling of not having enough saliva in your mouth. Everyone experiences dry mouth once in a while due to stress and dehydration.  It can cause bad breath, dryness of the throat and may cause soreness of the mouth. A quick fix to treat dry mouth is to chew on a piece of sugarless gum. It helps to moisten your mouth to relieve discomfort and at the same time adds freshness to your breath.  However, if symptoms of dry mouth begin to worsen, it is recommended you visit your dentist to be treated properly.

Although there are many benefits to chewing sugarless gum, it is not an alternative to regular brushing and flossing. Maintaining proper oral health at home and regular dental check ups are the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay and help to keep your natural teeth. If you are unsure of which sugar-free gum is right for you, look for the American Dental Association seal (ADA) on the package. These products have been tested and proven with scientific evidence that sugar-free chewing gum is effective in reducing plaque, cavities, and promoting remineralization of tooth enamel. To see which sugar-free brands made it on their list, visit the American Dental Association’s website.