Here at Mais Saúde we love to dispel myths that certain activities or foods are bad or unhealthy. For example, wine, chocolate, coffee, frequent sex are all basically healthy for you, and today we add chewing gum to the list.
Yes, if you are a little careful and choose the right type of gum, it can do great things to improve your teeth, breath, stress level, even the condition of your esophagus.
Let’s start with your teeth. Your mouth is full of bacteria. That’s normal, we live in an ecosystem with bacteria all over our bodies, and our body has adapted to that. Often we use these bacteria for our benefit.
But in the mouth, when one of the bacteria who lives there (Streptococus mutans) encounter sugars, it converts them to acids that slowly eats away (demineralizes) the hard outer coating of our teeth, the enamel layer, leading to cavities.
The biggest benefit of chewing gum is that it stimulates the production of saliva, and saliva is our bodies’ natural way to wash away and neutralize these acids. Saliva is so good and potent that over time the demineralization that occurs from acids can actually be reversed, and your teeth can get stronger again if you treat them right.
The gum itself (along with the increased saliva) helps lift away food particles that stick between your teeth and in dental crevices, and that helps your breath. Further, the increased saliva seems to lessen acid reflux—the abnormal flow of acid from your stomach into your esophagus (a topic for a future blog post).
The benefits of gum in cavity reduction, especially in children, have been proven in various studies, so much so that the American Dental Association has granted its seal of approval to several brands of sugarless gum. European studies have demonstrated up to a 70% decrease in cavities in children who chew xylitol (an artificial sweetener)-sweetened gum. As a bonus, gum chewing seems to decrease the rate of childhood ear infections (the chewing helps opens up the Eustachian tubes between the ears and throat).
Which gum is the best? First, only buy gum that is sugarless. Second—if you can read the small print on the ingredients label of a gum package—look for the word “xylitol” as one of the first ingredients. “Sorbitol” or “Mannitol”, also artificial sweeteners, are satisfactory but xylitol is absolutely the best for your teeth. Xylitol is common now in USA gums, but still uncommon in Brazil. However, you can find that gum here, and it’s worth your effort and the slightly higher cost.
The best time to chew is after meals, or sugary snacks, so you wash away the food and acids. The only negative effect could be if you have problems with your temporomandibular joint (in front of your ear), as the chewing could irritate your joint.
If not, here’s a idea: go out tonight, have a glass of wine with your meal, dark chocolate and coffee for dessert. Then get outside, pop a stick of xylitol gum and take a walk with someone you like. You might finish the evening with our suggested option; a (safe) sex experience. You’ve just had one healthy Friday evening. Have fun and repeat!
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)