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Readers ask, we answer

Ava asks:

"Is chewing gum bad for my teeth?"

Have a question you’d like us to answer? Send it to grin@deltadental.com, and it could be featured in an upcoming issue.

Hi, Ava! It really depends on whether the gum has sugar in it. When that sweet tooth kicks in, it’s always better to choose a sugar-free gum (one with xylitol is best!) rather than sugary bubble gum. That’s because bacteria can transform sugar in your mouth into acids that destroy enamel and cause cavities.

But sugar-free gum can be good for your teeth. It increases the flow of saliva in your mouth, which helps wash away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria. Saliva also has calcium and phosphate to strengthen your enamel and reduce your risk of cavities.

Studies show that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals and snacks can help protect your teeth from tooth decay. One study found that gum sweetened with xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar found in fruits and vegetables, reduces the number of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth by up to 75%. This can be great for times when it isn’t convenient to brush your teeth after eating and drinking. It can also help temporarily prevent or relieve bad breath.

News about the benefits of sugar-free gum has increased demand and sales of the product. The global market for chewing gum is expected to generate $23 billion in revenue by 2020,mostly because of the oral and dental health benefits of sugar-free gum.

So before you grab a stick of gum, make sure to check the label to see that it’s sugar-free. While chewing gum should not replace brushing and flossing, it could help prevent tooth decay.

1“Global Chewing Gum Market 2016-2020,” Technavio, https://www.technavio.com/report/global-food-global-chewing-gum-market-2016-2020

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