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Is Chewing Gum The Same As Brushing?

We’ve all heard the commercials that tell us chewing sugar-free gum is just as good as brushing after we eat. But how accurate is that statement? 

The first thing to consider is what type of gum to chew. Chewing gum that contains sugar increases your risk of getting cavities.  But there is clinical evidence that demonstrates the exact opposite effect for sugar-free gum- especially those brands sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that helps prevent the growth of bacteria that lead to cavities. Xylitol makes it harder for bacteria to attach to teeth which decreases the likelihood of tooth decay.

Chewing sugar-free gum after eating has been proven to increase saliva flow by ten times. Saliva helps rinse off and neutralize the acids released by the bacteria in your mouth. The increased saliva also washes away excess food particles from your teeth.

Always talk to your dentist before chewing gum if you are experiencing any discomfort or pain in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ/TMD) as excessive chewing can lead to joint damage. 

For most people, chewing xylitol-sweetened gum after eating is a good preventative measure when brushing and flossing aren’t possible. But overall, chewing gum will never replace good oral hygiene habits.