Dentistry and modern science have not been able to find a cure or preventative measure for tooth decay. New clinical studies show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating may help to prevent tooth decay.
Q: What is tooth decay?
A: Dental decay (also known as cavities or caries) is a bacterial disease. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth that cause caries. These bacteria form a plaque on teeth (sticky bacterial biofilm); a high sugar and starch diet is turned into acid by these bacteria, which causes decalcification and cavities in the tooth, destroys the tooth enamel and allows the decay to occur.
Q: How does chewing sugarless gum help prevent cavities?
A: Chewing gum for 20 minutes after meals increases salivary production. This washes out the mouth, removes food debris and neutralizes these acids caused by bacteria. Also, this increased flow of saliva carries minerals to strengthen tooth enamel.
Q: Does gum replace daily brushing and flossing?
A: No, it’s not a substitute. To prevent tooth destruction, you must remove the plaque. This is done by daily brushing and flossing. Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss or use other between-the-teeth cleaning tools once a day.
Q: Does gum containing sugar do the same thing?
A: Chewing any gum will increase saliva flow, but the sugar in it would be used by mouth bacteria to produce more plaque and damaging acid. Make sure your gum is sugarless, sweetened by non-cavity-producing xylitol, aspartame, sorbitol or mannitol. Studies show that xylitol additionally inhibits bacteria, reducing plaque and resulting cavities.
New and better products with scientific studies have been developed and released in the 50 years since sugar-free Trident was introduced in 1964. Trident had the slogan “The Great Taste that Is Good for Your Teeth” in an attempt to promote dental health through chewing gum.
Dental decay is not completely preventable. Sugarless gum as an alternative to sweets and as an extra cleaning tool is safe and may be effective in reducing cavities.