There are lots of snacks that we ask parents and patients to steer away from…anything sticky and sugary is usually a no-no. However, there is a sticky, sugary treat that can be the exception to that rule-sugar free gum!
Now, the key to that it is SUGAR-FREE. Sugarless chewing gum itself does not contribute to plaque reduction, but studies have shown some beneficial effects on oral hygiene, tartar buildup, and gum disease from chewing after meals or as a snack replacement. When we chew gum after meals, the body produces excess saliva that helps neutralize acids and wash away excess debris in the mouth. There are actually studies that show cavities are prevented if one chews sugar-free gum for twenty minutes after meals. Furthermore, there is new evidence that suggests certain sugar free gums may help re-mineralize tooth surfaces. Specifically, look for Trident gum that contains Xylitol.
Now although we are huge supporters of the use of sugar-free gums, they do not take the place of brushing and flossing. This should only be used as an adjunct to routine brushing and flossing habits!
If you would like to read more, check out the American Dental Associations website: http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/product-category-information/chewing-gum