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A Family Dentist on Chewing Gum: Yes or No?
How do family dentists feel about chewing gum? You will probably find packets of gums in the checkout area of convenience stores, grocery stores, drugstores and gas stations. Although sugar-free gum is the most common option available, the myths of chewing gum might confuse you.
Sometimes the gum is advertised as a dental aid, and you are left wondering about the difference between gums containing sugar and those with xylitol. To help, we have covered dental facts and fiction about chewing gum and the best way to keep your teeth healthy.
Fiction: Sugar-free gum can help with weight loss
While there is no research supporting the theory that gums or xylitol can help you reduce weight, there is proof that chewing gum can work as a diet aid. Although it will not directly help you shed pounds, chewing gum when you are craving sweets can help you avoid additional calories daily. The different flavors available, including mint and apple pie, is a minimal way to engage your mouth instead of eating.
Thus, chewing gum can help limit the number of calories you consume, but it will not help you shed weight on its own.
Fiction 2: Sugar-free gum works against cavities
You cannot substitute chewing gum for going for your dental appointments. Although some gum labels advertise that they fight cavities, you should never use chewing gum as an alternative to optimal oral hygiene and dental appointments. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the xylitol used to replace sugar in sugar-free gum helps reduce bacterial residue on the teeth and plaque formation. Xylitol can therefore help prevent dental decay.
Also, the AAPD noted that there is evidence showing that the act of chewing this type of gum can help reduce cavities. Nevertheless, you should still brush two times daily using a fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay.
Fiction 3: Gums stay in the digestive system for years
While growing up, your mom probably told you not to swallow gum because it would remain in your stomach for up to 10 years. That is a popular myth. Although your body cannot digest gum — meaning that it is impossible for the body to derive nutrients from it as it goes through the digestive passages — you do not have to concern yourself with hosting gum in your digestive tract for many years.
Although your digestive system cannot use the chewing gum, it will pass through the tract like any other indigestible material.
Why does this all matter?
Whether you chew gum to get fresher breath or stop yourself from going out to get sugary treats, chewing gum has become a daily routine for many Americans. By understanding the facts and fiction about gum from a family dentist, you can opt to adopt it for your family, but only to indulge and not as a substitute for proper oral hygiene.
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