Many popular gum brands market their sugar-free products as dentist recommended or protective against cavities. The general idea behind this is that chewing gum is a natural saliva stimulant. Your saliva is one of the most important protective factors in fending off tooth decay. It naturally buffers acidic foods and inhibits the ability of bacteria to damage dental enamel. This is why patients with chronic dry mouth are extremely prone to getting new cavities. Chewing gum triggers your saliva glands to create more fluids and thus better protect your mouth between meals.
An important point in this recommendation is that the gum has to be sugar free. If the product contains fructose, sucrose or any other dietary sugar, any benefit from saliva stimulation is lost. In this circumstance, the constant contact to sugar weakens enamel and fuels the decay-causing bacteria. Look for gums sweetened with a sugar substitute like sorbitol or (ideally) xylitol. When consumed at a high enough concentration, xylitol can actually interfere with bacterial enzymes and stop their ability to produce acid. However, you would need to specifically seek out a xylitol gum (such as Xyloburst, typically available at health food stores) and consume about six sticks a day. While six pieces of gum a day may seem excessive, it is an inexpensive and easy preventative measure for those with the highest risk of developing new cavities.
We know that picking good products for your oral hygiene can be difficult. If you have any further questions on chewing gums, mints or other supplements, please give our office a call. We are always happy to help you find the best tools for your oral health needs!