Earlier this year, researchers in the Netherlands discovered that one piece of gum could successfully trap up to 10 percent of the bacteria in your mouth. The researcher had people chew sugar-free spearmint gum for up to 10 minutes, and they swabbed their mouths before and after the chewing. There was up to 100 million bacteria that were trapped with the gum, which means that chewing sugarless gum can be as effective as flossing.
So we should stop flossing and start chewing? Not so fast…
Although chewing gum takes away the same amount of bacteria as flossing does, it does not reach the same areas that brushing and flossing do. Think about the areas a piece of gum will reach. These areas are your tongue, insides of your cheeks and the exposed surfaces of your teeth. A piece of chewing gum does not have the shape and consistency to reach in between your teeth, which is where most decay starts.
Sure, gum morphs and molds to the outsides of your teeth, but there is no way it’s going to reach those tiny crevices between your teeth that floss can. To keep your teeth as clean as possible, you need the mechanics of a toothbrush and some floss.
Another plus from chewing gum is that it has ingredients that can help remineralize and strengthen your teeth. It also increases saliva flow which washes away acids from your teeth and carries calcium phosphate which strengthens teeth.
The American Dental Association has a list of accepted chewing gums for reducing cavities. If you see their seal, you can be assured that this chewing gum has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Now when you chew, you know you’re doing something to keep your mouth happy and healthy.