Everybody knows that brushing and flossing and regular checkups at your Overland Park dentist are important for good oral care and a healthy smile, but very few of us like to brush or floss. Fortunately, there’s some good news: Something you probably do like—chewing gum—can also be good for you and for your teeth!
There’s a catch, though. You have to chew the right gum. Look for a sugar-free variety made with xylitol, which reduces decay-causing bacteria. When in doubt, seek out chewing gum with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal is only given to products which have been shown to meet the ADA’s criteria for safety and effectiveness.
Chewing gum goes back to ancient times, when people chewed the sap from various trees, but most kinds of chewing gum today are loaded with sugar and aren’t good for you or your teeth. Sugar-free chewing gum with the ADA Seal can do several things to help improve oral health and brighten your smile!
First off, the act of chewing stimulates saliva, which can help to wash away food particles trapped in your teeth and also neutralize the acids that are produced when food is broken down by bacteria, which is what leads to tooth decay. Meanwhile, the sticky gum itself can help to remove food particles and other cavity-causing agents from your mouth. Increased saliva also carries phosphates and calcium to your teeth, which help to strengthen tooth enamel.
What’s more, certain chewing gum manufacturers are including additional agents that can help to strengthen and whiten your teeth. Besides xylitol, certain types of chewing gum also have ingredients like Recaldent that harden tooth enamel or others that can assist in tooth whitening. In order to receive the ADA Seal, a chewing gum must show scientific evidence of aiding in the reduction of plaque acids, promoting remineralization of tooth enamel, reducing cavities, and/or reducing gingivitis.
Of course, chewing gum is never going to be a substitute for brushing, flossing, and regular trips to your Overland Park dentist, but chewing gum with the ADA Seal for 20 minutes after meals in addition to your regular oral care has been shown to reduce cavities and gum disease, and even to whiten teeth.
It goes without saying, however, that if you’re experiencing any kind of temporomandibular disorder (TMD/TMJ) symptoms or jaw pain, it’s not a good time to chew gum. Talk to your Overland Park dentist about other options that can help with your teeth without exacerbating your symptoms.
If you’re looking for advice on selecting a brand of chewing gum or any other beneficial dental hygiene practices, just ask your friendly Overland Park dentist anytime! Come see us at Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas, or call (913) 338-3384 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form. At Watts Family Dental, we want to help keep your whole family smiling!