It may come as a surprise to hear our dental office in Chapel Hill supporting something found in the candy aisle. But when it comes to gum, we actually recommend that our patients consider chewing it occasionally. However, not just any gum will get our seal of approval. Gum containing sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or saccharine just won’t do. Instead, look for a gum containing Xylitol and your mouth may thank you.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that gives you the satisfaction of sweet without the damaging effects of regular sugar or many sugar substitutes. Traditional sugar can not only spike blood glucose levels throughout the body, but puts your teeth at increased risk for decay too. Xylitol is different and can actually boost oral health by:
Unlike traditional sugar that feeds the bacteria in our mouths, Xylitol technically starves it. You see, when regular sugar is ingested it provides the bacteria a feast of nutrients. But just like any living thing, what goes in must come out. It just so happens that the byproduct of feeding bacteria is a dangerous acid that can eat away at tooth enamel leaving them at risk for decay. Xylitol is different. While bacteria may still feed on Xylitol, it doesn’t provide bacteria with any nutrients and essentially starves it. In fact, chewing Xylitol gum can decrease oral bacteria levels, sometimes by up to 75%. This also means there is no acid production from feeding bacteria and teeth are more protected.
Chewing Xylitol gum does even more for your oral health than decreasing bacteria and acid. The act of chewing in general produces more saliva. This saliva neutralizes acid and rinses away harmful bacteria in the mouth. It also helps keep teeth strong by helping remineralize them with phosphate and calcium.
Gum can be a great way to protect teeth when you don’t have an opportunity to brush or floss your teeth, but it shouldn’t be a replacement to proper oral hygiene. We recommend continuing to brush and floss everyday and maintain visits to your dentist in Chapel Hill every six months.
At our Chapel Hill dental office we’re always accepting new patients and welcome you to call us to schedule an appointment today. We’re here to help our neighbors smile!