Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Teeth?
A couple of weeks ago at the British Open, pro golfer Darren Clarke caught everyone off guard when what looked like a tooth feel out of his mouth onto the putting green at the 14th hole. Without batting an eye, he reached down, picked it up, and put it back in his mouth.
Fortunately, it wasn’t a tooth…it was just a piece of gum, and Clarke evidently felt like the “5 second rule” was a good enough reason to just keep on chewing.
Surprisingly, chewing gum can actually be good for your teeth. That is, if you pick the right type of gum. Being “sugar free” isn’t actually indicative of the gum being good for you. But, if you choose a gum that contains xylitol, you can help your teeth combat cavities.
Xylitol is a sugar alternative that changes the way plaque biofilm accumulates. It actually interferes with the plaque molecules from being able to adhere to one another. Routine xylitol exposure can limit how much buildup collects over your teeth throughout the day.
The next time you’re at the supermarket, consider picking up chewing gum with xylitol…just be sure to read the labels. Usually, the front of the package will have small lettering in the corner to indicate that xylitol is an ingredient. “Sugar free” labels are not the same thing.
Was the gum that Clarke was chewing during the British Open one with xylitol? Who knows, but let’s hope that it was (otherwise, it might not have been worth picking it up off of the ground!)
Our patients with increased cavity risk and a high rate of caries should consider adding xylitol gum to their daily routine. Schedule a checkup at SEDA Dental every six months to see if the change has had an impact on your smile!