Clinical studies have proven that twenty minutes of chewing sugar free gum after meals actually prevents plaque and bacteria growth in a number of ways. First, the act of chewing helps to clean out the mouth by dislodging particles of food from between the teeth. The flavor of the gum in combination with chewing motions also stimulates saliva production, which neutralizes acids in the mouth and helps prevent the buildup of tooth decay. Augmented saliva flow also transmits more calcium and phosphate, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel.
In addition, gums that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol have an added benefit. Approved by the Food and Drug Association in 1986, xylitol is a natural sweetener found in various plants that is used in products ranging from sugarless gums to toothpaste. Xylitol has been shown to hinder the growth of Streptococcus Mutans, an oral bacteria that causes cavities.
Chewing sugarless gum is, of course, not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing on a daily basis to remove plaque buildup between the teeth is still the most effective and recommended way to keep your teeth healthy and clean.
Certain brands such as Dentyne Ice, Stride, Trident, and Wrigleys each have sugarless gums that have been approved by the American Dental Association. So next time you are in a hankering for something minty, sweet, and chewy, look for the official ADA Seal of Acceptance on your favorite brand of sugar free gum!