Sugar-free gum… something to chew over

Unlike most sweets sold on the shelves at supermarkets and newsagents, sugar-free gum is often touted as being good for our teeth and gums. But what really happens to your teeth when you chew gum? And are the dental benefits for our overall oral health really as good as we think? That’s exactly what we’ll be discovering in today’s blog…

What is sugar-free gum?

Sugar-free gum is essential chewing gum that doesn’t have any sugar in it. Twenty years ago, most of the chewing gums on the market, such as Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint sticks, actually contained sugar and calories. Today you’ll find that the majority of chewing gums are calorie-free and sugar-free. The reason they still taste so good is because of the added sweeteners, which promise fresh breath without the addition of sugar.

Sugar free gum something to chew over

The benefits of sugar-free gum

Sugar-free gum does have a good impact on our dental health. It’s been proven that chewing helps to protect our teeth and gums in between meals – when it may not be possible to brush.

Teeth are more at risk of acid attack after you have eaten because of the acid produced by plaque bacteria and the sugars in our food and drink. If left alone, the acid can slowly dissolves away the enamel and dentine of the teeth. Eventually, this will produce a hole or cavity that will need to be filled.

Sugar-free gum actually reduces the impact of acid by increasing the production of saliva in the mouth. In fact, research shows that the act of chewing and the flavour of the artificial sweeteners combined stimulate up to ten times the normal rate of saliva flow! This increased saliva neutralises plaque acids and prevents them from doing damage.

Chewing gum also washes away food particles, helping to keep your teeth clean, and can help lessen any staining that builds up on your teeth as a result of smoking and consumption of teeth-staining foods and drinks.

Sugar free gum something to chew over

When should I chew gum?

While gum can be chewed at any time, it’s best chewed after eating and drinking to reduce the side effects of acid production. Gum should also be chewed for around 20 minutes for maximum benefit. This will get your saliva flowing at the time it’s required most, helping maintain tooth mineralisation and oral health.

As it’s only practical to brush our teeth twice daily, chewing gum is a great alternative to keep your teeth in good health at all other times. However, it should never be used as an alternative to brushing and flossing.

For more information on improving your oral health, browse all the other topics on our blog. You can also book in to see one of our dentists for a full examination and even more dental tips. Call us on 01254 297 000 to find out more.

What are your thoughts on sugar-free gum? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @APSmilecare