Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chewing Gum

Why kick things off discussing something only kids like you ask? Well as it turns out, chewing gum isn't just for kids. It's marketed to adults as well, and it's incredibly popular. I often have patients tell me they chew gum all the time, and even I for one, chew at least one piece of gum everyday. I find it helps lower my stress level and I like the taste!

With all of their fancy colors, who isn't mesmerized by the gum-ball machine in the grocery store? For just a quarter, you get a huge gum-ball that even Tiger Woods might confuse for a golf ball!

The problem with these gum-balls, is they're pure sugar. Chewing them allows the sugar to remain in your mouth, where bacteria have a field-day digesting the stuff (and rotting your teeth in the process!!!).
Sugar + Bacteria + Your mouth ----> Cavities!

What are some healthy alternatives? Well, believe it or not, the American Dental Association has placed their seal of acceptance on certain chewing gums! The one common feature is they're all sugar-free (instead getting their taste from sugar substitutes):

Wrigley's Extra Sugarfree Gum
Wrigley's Orbit Sugarfree Gum
Dentyne Ice Sugarless Gum
Stride Sugarless Gum
Trident Sugarless Gum

Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum increases salivary flow in your mouth, which reduces the amount of acids produced by germs! These acids are responsible for breaking down your teeth (causing decay). Check out the literature (here's one example article):
Sugar Substitutes, Chewing Gum and Dental Caries

It's important to remember that chewing gum (even sugar-free) is no substitute for proper brushing and flossing (which will be discussed in a future post!).

Still, if you're feeling the need to chew... you may as well chew something that promotes a healthy mouth. When your mouth is healthy, it puts a smile on your face!

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