Chewing gum is candy, right? After all, it’s in the candy section at every checkout in nearly every supermarket across the country–so it must be candy. You might want to think again.
Some brands of chewing gum have earned the coveted ADA Seal of Acceptance, meaning that the gum is actually good for your teeth. In order to earn the ADA Seal, gum manufacturers must scientifically prove that their gum can protect teeth. Gums have many surprising benefits for your teeth and your overall health.
How Does Chewing Gum Protect Teeth?
Chewing gum has been around since ancient times, providing oral benefits for quite a while. Chewing sugarless gum after eating is beneficial because chewing increases salivary flow.
When food begins to break down on your teeth, acids are produced that destroy tooth enamel. The increased flow of saliva washes away these acids and also carries calcium and phosphate, which strengthen enamel. The ADA recommends chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after you eat.
See also: How To Practice Good Oral Health.
In addition to increasing salivary flow, gums have other benefits for your mouth. Most sugarless chewing gum contains Xylitol, which is a natural sweetener made from birch bark.
Xylitol can prevent plaque from sticking to the surface of your teeth, which helps to protect against decay. Some studies have shown that Xylitol can reverse tooth decay by replacing lost minerals. Chewing gum also freshens your breath and reduces dry mouth.
Although gums provide many benefits for your mouth and teeth, it does not replace the need for regular brushing and flossing. Be sure to chew sugarless gum, as gum with sugar will increase tooth decay.
How Chewing Gum Affects Your Overall Health
Chewing gum is great for your teeth, but did you know it can also improve your overall health? Check out all the ways that your chewing gum is improving your health:
- Stress reduction. Stress is harmful to your body in many ways–it affects your digestion, immune system, sleep patterns, muscles, and mood. Studies show that gum reduces cortisol levels–the hormone that causes stress. Gums also release nervous energy which might otherwise result in bad habits such as nail biting.
- Improved concentration. Surprisingly, chewing gum is on many lists of “study hacks” for students–studies show that chewing gum actually improves memory and concentration. Chewing gum has a “waking” effect on your brain–the act of chewing wakes your body and makes you more alert, allowing you to focus and concentrate better. This more alert feeling stems from increased blood flow to the brain and increased heart rate.
- Weight management. While you can’t depend entirely on chewing gum to shed those extra pounds, it certainly can help. Sugar-free gum is an excellent snack choice at less than five calories per piece. Chewing gum helps you resist the urge to snack on higher calorie foods, and you also burn calories while chewing.
- Improved digestion. Increased saliva flow helps to break down food in your stomach and digest it more easily. This increased saliva flow also promotes more frequent swallowing and can combat acid reflux.
Your mouth can benefit from gums in many ways. Gum can help protect enamel, prevent bad breath, relieve dry mouth, and even reverse tooth decay.
In addition to these fantastic benefits for your teeth and mouth, gums provide many additional health benefits. Gums can help reduce stress, improve concentration, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, and reduce acid reflux. Remember to chew sugarless gum (gum with sugar will add to tooth decay!) and continue good oral hygiene including brushing and flossing.