How can chewing gum help prevent tooth decay?

Some gums have a specific sugar called xylitol in them. This sugar is unlike other sugars in that it decreases the likelihood of cavities. When selecting gum, look for the ADA seal on the package. This seal indicates that xylitol is present in that particular brand of gum.
Aaron B. Schwartz, DDS
Pediatric Dentistry

YES! SUGAR-FREE chewing gum:

  • promotes saliva, which naturally breaks down carbohydrates and sugars (which lead to tooth decay)
  • mechanically removes food off from teeth while chewing.

Yohan Kim, DMD

One of the main reasons is by increasing saliva. Saliva has lots of antibacterial components which can kill the bacteria. Also, the increased amount of saliva can function as a buffer to neutralize the lowered pH by sugary food/drinks. The more acidic it can be, the more it can erode the teeth and cause more decay.

Gum increases the salivary output, which helps to remove the food particles that can contribute to decay. That being said, sugar-free gum is the only type to be used, as sugar containing gums increase decay.
Chewing gum, if it is sugarless, can help prevent decay in two ways. First, chewing gum helps to remove food particles from your teeth. Second, the artificial sweetener (xylitol) in the gum has been shown to decrease cavities in teeth.

Chewing gum (sugarless gum, please) creates saliva, which helps clean teeth. Ok, this isn’t as good as brushing, but chewing some sugarless gum after eating is better than nothing.

Sugarless gum can increase the production of saliva in the mouth which has a protective effect on the teeth and gums. On the other hand, chewing gum that contains sugar can promote tooth decay and also loosen crowns (caps) and permanent bridges.
The physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. If you chew after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, creating the conditions for decay. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel. Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.