Independent research has shown that chewing sugar free gum after eating and drinking by increases the production of saliva that reduces acid. These acids typically stick around in the mouth for 20 minutes after eating so chewing gum for 20 minutes after eating or drinking increases the amount of saliva in the mouth; helping neutralise the acid.
What is sugar-free gum?
You guessed it – sugar-free gum does not have any sugar in it. The taste is added using sweeteners, and therefore the gum does not cause tooth decay. The gum releases its flavours over a period of time, just like ordinary gum.
Why is chewing sugar-free gum good for my teeth and gums?
Chewing sugar-free gum helps protect your teeth and gums in between meals. Most folks brush once in the morning and once just before going to bed, there’s a lot of eating and drinking going on between those two brushings.
Your teeth are more at risk of acid attack after you have eaten, drunk a glass of fruit juice or guzzled a fizzy drink or two. The acid is produced by plaque bacteria and also the sugars in our food and drink; this acid slowly dissolves away the enamel and dentine of the tooth if you don’t remove it quickly.
You can reduce this acid attack by chewing sugar-free gum, as it helps the mouth to produce more saliva, saliva is the mouth’s natural defence against acid.
The British Dental Health Foundation approves several chewing gums brands including:
- Marks & Spencer
I didn’t realise Polo mints also have BDHF approval, perhaps as well they do have approval – 150 Polo mints are eaten every second.
I actually stopped buying myself a packet of mints every week or so and started using chewing gum instead. I thought gum would be better for my teeth and gums. I think I prefer the mints so I will be using both from now on. Chewing gum seems to make me hungry but it’s nice to give yourself that fresh breath feeling in the middle of the day when you are a long way away from your toothbrush.
There does however always seem to be a flip side to everything, one impartial source warns that although sugar-free products may decrease dental decay, they may bring another dental health risk if they contain acidic flavouring; dental erosion.
Do I still need to brush my teeth if I’ve used chewing gum?
You most certainly do, chewing gum is no substitute for brushing your teeth properly twice a day.
Can sugar-free gum whiten my teeth?
Wouldn’t it be nice if they did! Some sugar-free chewing gums have a ‘whitening’ claim in much the same way as whitening toothpastes do. Although gum cannot lighten the natural colour of your teeth, it may marginally help to lessen any staining if you drink a lot of tea, coffee or wine.
When should I chew sugar-free gum?
It’s best to chew gum soon after eating. Chewing for up to twenty minutes increases the flow of saliva, speeding up the time that it takes for saliva to cancel out the acid. Remember that plaque starts to form again within half an hour of cleaning your teeth.
How many times a day can you chew?
It’s recommended to chew sugar free gum after eating and drinking, as a frequent coffee drinker I get through a lot of chewing gum.
Is sugar-free gum safe to use for children?
Wrigley, and they should know, does not recommend that children under the age of seven chew gum.
Is sugar-free chewing gum suitable for vegetarians?
Some chewing gums can contain animal glycerine and are not suitable for vegetarians. However, most sugar-free gums now only contain a type of non-animal glycerine and are suitable for vegetarians.