Sugar-Free Xylitol Gum Can be Good for Your Teeth
We would often chew bubble gum with our friends when we were kids, but our parents and pediatric dentists were quick to tell us that it was best to avoid it altogether. Brushing our teeth twice a day and flossing once a day are great habits to have in order to maintain good oral health, but what happens if you go out to dinner in Houston and the drive back home is long, so it will be a while before you can brush your teeth again? Chewing xylitol gum is a good solution in the meantime.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is what is known as a sugar alcohol. It sounds alarming, but it isn't. This particular sugar alcohol is naturally present in common fruits and vegetables. It can also be extracted from birch trees and corncobs. Interestingly, xylitol also occurs naturally in the body, which means that, as a sweetener, it has little to no side effects compared to other sugar alternatives.
Why Our Houston Dentists Recommend Chewing Sugar-Free Xylitol Gum
- Chewing gums that are sweetened with sugar (sucrose) are bad for your teeth because this sugar is easily digested by the bad bacteria in your mouth, which only strengthens it and can cause more plaque build-up. Too much plaque tends to lead to cavities.
- The act of chewing stimulates your saliva. Because it is acidic, it helps you digest your food by breaking it down into smaller particles. Chewing gum after a meal when you can't brush your teeth just yet will help stimulate your saliva again, but this time your saliva will break down any tiny pieces of food left in between your teeth after eating. Sucrose-sweetened gums will stimulate your saliva as well, but do more harm than good.
- Studies show that oral bacteria cannot digest xylitol, which means it will starve and end up having a hard time sticking to the tooth. This kills it off before it can harm your teeth. Studies also show that xylitol is very good for helping relieve dry mouth, which in turn can promote better breath.
There is no need to completely give up a sugary treat we enjoyed as kids because now there are alternatives that can actually improve our oral health in between cleanings with a family or pediatric dentist. Just remember that chewing sugar-free gum should never replace brushing your teeth and flossing. It should only protect your teeth until you can brush them again.