If you've been looking for ways to improve your dental health, you may have started chewing sugar free gum after meals and snacks. This kind of gum helps keep your teeth and gums clean by improving your saliva flow; chewing a gum that contains xylitol can also help you manage the bacteria load in your mouth more effectively.
On this basis, sugar free gum can be viewed as being tooth-friendly; however, your dentist may not totally agree if you start to show signs of enamel erosion when you have a check-up. Not all sugar-free gums are equal and some can damage your teeth despite their beneficial properties. Which gums should you avoid and which ones should you chew?
Gums to Avoid
While all sugar free gums can have good effects on your oral health, some come with downsides. One of the primary benefits of chewing sugar free gum is the fact that the saliva that is produced when you chew helps wash acids away from your teeth and gums; however, some gums can actually introduce harmful acids into your mouth.
It's best to avoid chewing gums that use acids to create flavours. If a gum contains an acid ingredient like ascorbic or citric acid, it may not be the best choice for your teeth. If you chew a lot of gum every day, you're exposing your teeth to these acids on a regular basis. Over time, the enamel on your teeth may become eroded by the acids and you may experience problems with decay and increased sensitivity.
Typically, you'll find acids used to flavour fruity sugar-free gums. Acids are also commonly used to create special tastes in a gum such as sourness so it's best to avoid sour gums if you can as well.
Gums to Chew
The easiest way to avoid acid problems with your sugar free gum is to choose natural minty gums. The mint taste of a gum is typically a natural flavouring that doesn't require acid ingredients. If you don't like the taste of mint gum and prefer something sweeter, you may be able to switch to other sweet flavours. For example, a cinnamon sugar free gum should be acid free. You may also be able to find some chocolate or dessert mix gums that don't contain acid.
If you're showing signs of erosion from chewing the wrong kinds of gum, it's worth chatting to your dentist about gums that might be better for your teeth. If your teeth have become more sensitive because of erosion problems, your dentist may recommend that you use a xylitol gum in tandem with any treatment you're having to help reduce your sensitivity.