Does Your Gum Have Vitamin C?

woman in car putting a stick of gum in her mouth

Snapping and popping gum remain image busters -- just ask Britney Spears watchers. But here's a good excuse for discreet chewing: less blood at the dentist's office.

If your gums bleed a lot during cleaning -- a sign of subpar dental health -- your dentist may urge you to floss more. But chew gum more? It could help. In a study, gum chewers experienced less gingivitis-like bleeding than nonchewers, but only if their gum of choice was enriched with vitamin C. Better yet, they didn't have to chew for a long time to get the benefit.

Dentists have been concerned that too much direct contact between tooth enamel and vitamin C leads to a breakdown in tooth structure, but there was no problem with erosion in this study. And gum chewers didn't need to chew long -- only for about 15 minutes -- to release nearly all of the vitamin C in their sample gum. But they did chew daily -- about five times each day, in fact -- to achieve the benefits.

Sound like a lot of chewing? Consider this: The benefits didn't stop at just healthier gums. Chewers also had less plaque and tartar on their teeth.

Tooth and gum trouble begins when tartar forms on the tooth near or under the gum line, causing gum inflammation and possibly periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing and regular professional cleaning will remove the troublesome substance. And although gum chewing isn't a substitute for good oral care, vitamin C-enriched gum did appear to help minimize tartar and plaque in this study, particularly in people whose mouths tended to produce lots of the stuff.

Chewing sugarless gum helps you in other ways, too. It sweeps away the sugar and nasty by-products of bacteria lurking in your mouth. Go for vitamin-C enriched sugarless gum and your pearly whites may be in even better shape. Look for gum that contains vitamin C at health food and supplement stores.

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