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We all know to brush our teeth twice a day, but, how do we keep our mouths clean in between brushing? One solution could be a little unexpected: chewing gum! Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating can help prevent cavities. Let’s talk about how this works.

Chewing on sugarless gum activates your body’s salivary glands–your first defense against cavities. Saliva cleans teeth of food particles and excess sugars, neutralizes acids present in your mouth, and fortifies tooth enamel. To understand why these features are helpful, let’s look at the basics of how cavities form.

There are many microflora that live in your mouth. They come together to form a sticky film called plaque, which coats your gums and teeth. The bacteria then feed on the sugars present in leftover food particles. They create an acidic byproduct that eats away at your tooth enamel. The protect against this cycle, your body produces saliva. Saliva cleans the plaque away from teeth, cleans the food away from plaque, and washes the acids away.

Granted, chewing sugar-sweetened gum also stimulates saliva. However, it doesn’t help your mouth. The added sugars get spread around, feeding the very bacteria you are trying to get rid of. This negates the benefits of chewing gum in the first place! Stick with sugarless gum for a healthy smile. If chewing gum is hard for you, try sucking on a piece of sugarless candy, for a similar benefit.

For more information, call Maple Ridge Dental in Staunton, Virginia, at 540.885.5050. Dr. Melissa Wolfe and our team are happy to help your smile!