Chewing gum in various forms has been around since ancient times. The Greeks chewed sap from the mastic tree called mastiche. On the other side of the world, the ancient Mayans favoured the sap of the sapodilla tree (called tsiclte). Native Americans from New England chewed spruce sap – a habit they passed on to European settlers. Today the base used for most gum products is a blend of synthetic materials (elastomers, resins and waxes in various proportions). People are used to thinking of chewing gum as as a kind of candy, but in reality it can be much more than just that.
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. How does it do that? Chewing sugar-free gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel.
Which Gum should you pick?
There is a vast variety of gum out there, most can be found right by the cashiers in any convenience or grocery store. The key is to look for the chewing gum with the ADA seal because you can be sure it’s sugar-free. You can trust that claims made on packaging and labeling for ADA-accepted products are true, because companies must verify all of the information to the ADA. Products with the ADA Seal say what they do and do what they say.
All gums with the ADA Seal are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol. Of course, chewing sugar-containing gum increases saliva flow too, but it also contains sugar which is used by plaque bacteria to produce decay-causing acids.
However, since ADA is an American organization, you may have to look up much gum they do approve as they may not have jurisdiction in Canada. We’ve listed them below.
Here’s a list of ADA approved gum you can try:
- 5 Sugarfree Gum
- Dentyne Ice Sugar-free Gum
- Extra Sugarfree Gum
- ICEBREAKERS ICE CUBES Sugar free Gum
- Orbit for Kids Sugarfree Gum
- Orbit Sugarfree Gum
- Stride Sugarfree Gum
- Trident Sugar free Gum
As good as gum is, it cannot be substituted for brushing your teeth twice a day or regularly flossing your teeth. If you’re having dental issues that need a little more attention than chewing gum, contact our Kitchener Dentist Charu Sharma and book an appointment to come in and have your teeth looked at.