Sugar-free gum is definitely not a new phenomenon, so you may be surprised at how much you’re hearing about it these days. It’s obvious that the lack of sugar makes it a superior choice for your oral health, but there’s more to it than that. Chewing gum can help protect your teeth by scrubbing away unwanted debris and loose plaque. This is true even if the gum has sugar in it. However, recent studies have revealed that there’s a hidden super-power in xylitol chewing gum that makes it more than a good way to avoid snacking. It makes it one of your best allies in the war on tooth decay.
The Xylitol Effect – How Sugar-Free Gum Protects Your Teeth
If there’s an official title for the effect chewing sugar-free gum has on your teeth, we don’t have it. The Xylitol effect will just have to do. Chewing gum has always been an effective way to help avoid snacking and suppress hunger. Even sugary gum was able to accomplish this while also scrubbing your teeth free of food debris. There was the unfortunate side-effect of coating your teeth with sugar, but that went away with sugar-free gum. What was unexpected was the powerful benefits that chewing sugar-free gum can bring to your smile.
Like any gum, sugar-free gum helps stimulate saliva production. This washes away that debris, as well as creates a hostile environment for bacteria. Xylitol just adds to this benefit. It turns out that bacteria can’t consume xylitol, as the sugar alcohol isn’t food for them. Without a food source, bacteria lose the ability to adhere to your teeth. This makes it impossible for them to form plaque and makes it easy for them to get washed out of your mouth. The more consistent the exposure to xylitol, the more pronounced this effect becomes.
Benefits of Gum With Xylitol:
- Boosted Saliva Flow – Increased salivation can ease concerns of dry mouth. Saliva also aids in the elimination of unwanted bacteria and the removal of food debris. It also creates a hostile environment for harmful bacteria.
- Clean Your Teeth – The sticky texture of chewing gum helps to serve as an ersatz toothbrush by removing food debris. While brushing is still necessary, gum does a good job of cleaning your teeth between brushings. The flavor can also serve as an appetite suppressant.
Some patients express concern about the potential health ramification of consuming xylitol. The good news is there aren’t any recognized health issues associated with this sugar alcohol. Those who have a specific allergy to this substance may have a negative reaction, but most others do not. Those who have a sensitivity to xylitol may experience digestive concerns such as bloating and gas. In addition, there are some chronic health conditions that make it inadvisable to consume foods that are sugar-free.
How The Body Processes Xylitol
Xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol that occurs naturally and is used to sweeten gum without the use of sugar. Our bodies cannot digest it, but nor are they generally harmed by it. There are no serious side effects that are associated with xylitol consumption. Speak to your dentist for more information.