You can't go past a cash register in a convenience store, pharmacy or grocery store these days without running into a display rack of chewing gum. It's a perennial American favorite. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American consumes 1.8 pounds of it, on average, each year.
You might think that, like most candy, chewing gum can only do damage to your teeth, but the surprising truth is that there is such a thing as gum that is good for your teeth.
Any Sugarless Gum Can Help Clean Your Teeth
You don't need to chew gum advertised as cavity-fighting in order to improve your oral health. Chewing any regular sugar free gum can help prevent cavities by removing food particles from the surfaces of your teeth. Chewing also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps clear away food, strengthen teeth, and reduce the levels of acid in your mouth that cause tooth decay.
Xylitol Is Sweet for Your Teeth
Chewing gum is even more effective at preventing cavities if it contains a sugar replacement called Xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that some studies have shown can reduce the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. Since Xylitol, unlike sugar, is unsuitable as fuel for these organisms, the number of bacteria decreases, leaving your mouth a safer place for your teeth.
Some Gum Can Even Harden Tooth Enamel
Some gum manufacturers are beginning to add a substance called casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) to their products. CPP-ACP, more commonly known by its trademarked name Recaldent, is said to remineralize and harden tooth enamel, making your teeth stronger and less likely to suffer from tooth decay.
With all these options waiting at the checkout candy rack, it is easier than ever to satisfy your sweet tooth and protect it from cavities at the same time. The next time you are in the mood for a sweet treat, why not bite into a piece of sugar free, cavity-fighting, or enamel-strengthening gum that is good for your teeth instead of a sugar-filled candy? Your teeth will thank you.