Sugarless Gum, Xylitol & Cavity Prevention
You know the drill. Brush your teeth three times a day for a healthy mouth. You’re also supposed to floss once a day, but how many people remember to do that? I have good news and bad news for you; the bad news is that what I'm about to tell you won't change the fact that brushing and flossing is super important. The good news is that it will support your brushing and flossing tremendously. I'm talking about *drum roll* sugar free gum! Specifically ones with Xylitol. It came as a surprise to me that chewing gum can have a positive effect on your teeth, but it’s true. Gum is even supported by the American Dental Association (ADA). Because I mean, always trust the guys in white coats *looks over his shoulder*.
Many sugar free gums have earned the ADA Seal, which is only given when a product has proven to be effective at improving oral health in at least one category. These categories include things such as reducing plague acid or reducing cavities. Sugar free gums that have the ADA seal often contain the Xylitol, which studies have shown to reduce the acid on teeth that is caused by sugar bacteria.
What Is Xylitol?
While the name may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, it is actually a natural element. Xylitol is found in small amounts in the food we eat, most commonly in fruits and vegetables. It is known as a carbohydrate that aids in preventing tooth decay. Xylitol is produced in our bodies naturally, up to 15 mg per day depending on diet (xylitol.org).
How does it aid in the prevention of tooth decay? Bacteria inside the mouth produces pH or acid when it rests on our teeth. Under normal circumstances saliva has the situation under control, but it cannot keep up with those with have high sugar intake.
Saliva that contains Xylitol has a much higher alkaline concentration. The result? Your saliva, which is charged with alkaline, counteracts the bacterial acid in your mouth. Remember, it's not a replacement for brushing and flossing. Also I'm not a dentist, though I used to go to them so much I feel like I could pass a few exams. In any case, do your own research and ask a professional first!
And That’s Not The Only Advantage!
Sometimes we feel tempted to eat, and not from caloric need or thirst. Gum gives the mouth that “chewing” sensation, and in doing so provides satisfaction to you that may have otherwise resulted in eating unnecessary calories.
Sugar free gum also only has a small amount of calories, ranging from 1 to maybe 5 calories per stick. It is a great aid in fighting sugar cravings. Dreaming about a big hunking slice of strawberry cheesecake? Drink a big glass of water and chew on some sugar free gum. It can really help you knockout those cravings. You can even try regular gum if you feel the need, but you’ll have to remember that gum that contains sugar is not nearly as effective as its Xylitol counterpart. The only real benefit of sugar gum is that it stimulates saliva. Sugar free gum does the same thing and much more!
In conclusion, sugar free gum does two things for you. First, with the help of elements such as Xylitol it fights the bacterial acid from food which causes cavities. Second, it helps fight against real sugar cravings. And for us junkies, we need all the help we can get.