Believe it or not, you probably chew about 2 pounds of gum every year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that’s how much the average American consumes!
As long as you stick to sugar-free gum, though, this isn’t a bad thing! Chewing increases your saliva flow, which helps you digest your food and protect your teeth. So get yourself some sugar-free gum and chew for 20 minutes after you eat.
Increase Saliva Flow, and Increase Your Oral Health
Chewing increases your saliva production. The more vigorously you chew, the more saliva you produce.
And that’s a good thing! Saliva forms a protective layer over your teeth and provides them with nourishing minerals. It also rinses your teeth, which can help loosen food particles and bacteria trapped in your chompers.
Saliva also neutralizes acids and pushes them into your belly, so they don’t cause heartburn.
Make Sure it’s Sugar-Free!
The benefits are only worth it if you chew sugar-free gum. Sugar will just help to feed the bacteria that live in your mouth, giving them free reign to grow and produce an acid that destroys your enamel.
But opting for sugar-free gum doesn’t mean giving up on flavor! Sugar-free gum is still sweetened, but it’s sweetened using a type of sugar that your saliva can’t break down.
Chewing Gum Safety
Enjoy the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum, but make sure you watch out for these risks:
- Xylitol, a common sweetener used in sugar-free gum, is safe for humans to consume. However, it can be fatal in dogs. Make sure you store your gum where your pooch can’t reach!
- Swallowing a large portion of gum in a short period of time can lead to an intestinal blockage, so supervise your children until you can trust them not to swallow the gum. Don’t worry though, swallowing a few pieces by accident won’t kill you.
- If you wear braces, it’s best to avoid gum. It can bend and loosen brackets and wires.
There is No Substitute for Brushing and Flossing!
Chewing gum, and increasing your saliva flow, is great for your dental hygiene. However, don’t use it as an excuse to give up brushing and flossing!
Saliva cannot scrape plaque off your gumline like flossing can, and brushing with your toothbrush physically scrubs your teeth in a way saliva cannot.