Everyone wants to protect their kids from cavities. You help them brush and floss between their teeth. You provide fluoride to strengthen their enamel and limit their sugar intake. You take them to the dentist twice a year.
There may be something else you can do to help your kids avoid cavities: give them sugar-free gum to chew.
Recent studies suggest that chewing sugar-free gum may help prevent cavities! Researchers gave this practice a preventative factor of 28%, indicating that chewing sugar-free gum may be helpful in staving off dental caries.
These studies point to sugar-free gum as a tool that can help prevent cavities by increasing salivary flow and helping fight bacterial growth.
Increase Saliva Flow
As you chew, your mouth produces saliva, which is a natural barrier that protects teeth. Children who chew sugar-free gum are enacting natural processes that can help them prevent cavities.
Help Fight Bacterial Growth
Sugar-free gum often contains xylitol or sorbitol. These substances are sugar-substitutes. While the bacteria in your mouth easily feed off of the sugar in your food, they cannot use xylitol or sorbitol for fuel.
This means that you can enjoy the sweet taste of these substances without feeding the harmful bacteria in your mouth. By starving these bacteria, there is less of a chance for sticky plaque to build on teeth, reducing the likelihood of dental caries.
What About Adults?
These studies focused on children rather than adults. While there is a possibility that adults can benefit from chewing sugar-free gum, researchers are not actively making this recommendation right now.
Future studies may be able to verify the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum for both children and adults.
Protecting Your Child’s Teeth
Although chewing sugar-free gum may be helpful, it is no substitute for good oral care. You should still help your child brush twice a day and floss once a day. They should also see a dentist twice a year for cleanings, exams, and x-rays. Seeing a dentist can help your child avoid serious dental problems of all sorts.
We hope that this tip can help your child enjoy years of smiles!