Chewing Gum History
Chewing gum has been around in various forms since ancient times. Today, the base for most gum products is a mixture of synthetic materials (waxes, elastomers, and resins in various proportions). Many consumers consider gum to be a type of candy, but the ADA Seal recognizes chewing gum as a benefit, after being confirmed scientifically to help protect teeth.
Watch any gum ad, and you’ll hear about the benefits of chewing gum after every meal: clean teeth, fresh breath, and a mouth full of pearly whites. However, what these ads fail to tell you is that the quality of those benefits depends on the ingredients in your chewing gum. So, the big question is: should you chew gum or not?
What’s the difference?
With gum that contains sugar, the answer is more straight forward. Plaque bacteria feeds off of sugar, so more sugar means more bad bacteria in the mouth. This leads to cavities, tooth decay, and other dental issues. However, sugar-free gum is sweetened in different ways, using ingredients like xylitol, aspartame, and sorbitol.
Chewing sugar-free gum after eating can increase salivary flow, which then helps to wash away and neutralize acids in food that are produced by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth. Increased saliva production also carries with it more phosphate and calcium to help strengthen tooth enamel. In clinical studies, it has been shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent tooth decay. When buying gum in the future, look for gum that presents a variety of therapeutic agents that could provide further benefits to those offered by the ability of gum to stimulate saliva flow. Some gum contains active agents that could enhance the gum’s ability to reduce decay and remineralize teeth or enable gum to help reduce gingivitis and plaque.
Signs to look for
Look for the ADA Seal, which is your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and efficacy by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.
The only chewing gums with the ADA Seal are sugarless. They are sweetened by non-cavity- causing sweeteners such as aspartame, sorbitol or mannitol. Chewing sugarless gum has been shown to increase the flow of saliva, in turn strengthening the teeth, reducing plaque acid, and reducing tooth decay.
If you’re in search of a family dentist that cares about your health, contact us today!