Stop… and Check the Ingredients in Your Gum

1334760_75811556 You may find yourself reaching for a stick of gum when you feel like your breath is stinking up the room. It could also be a way to shy away from smoking cigarettes, or just a habit. Whatever your reason for chewing gum may be, if you’re not smart about your gum choices, you may actually be causing more damage than you think. Companies that produce gum are pulling out all the stops with flavors like key lime pie and cookies and cream, but just imagine the amount of sugar that your teeth are getting beat with when you opt for these flavors. Here are a few tips and tricks to finding the best gum for bad breath and your overall oral health – you’ll thank us later.

Ditch the sugar
Sugary gum can taste yummy, but it can to damage to your breath and feed the bacteria that live in your mouth. Your bad breath is caused by bacteria that sit on your tongue and in your mouth and release odorous compounds, and they feed on the food you consume. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet of fruits and veggies, you’re more likely to have fresh breath and a clean mouth. The best gum for bad breath helps to fight these bacteria while defeating dry mouth, which is another big culprit of stinky breath. Chewing gum with sugar in it can also cause cavities and tooth decay.

Most dentists recommend chewing gum that is sweetened with Xylitol, a natural sweetener that is found in birch trees, corn cobs and other botanicals. This type of gum stimulates saliva flow and prevents bacteria from producing acid that causes bad breath and damages the teeth. This ingredient has also proven to be a natural fighter against cavities. According to a study conducted in Finland, children who chewed gum with this ingredient saw a decline in tooth decay. To get the best benefits of Xylitol, you should chew a piece of gum three to five times a day for at least five minutes.

Got a headache?
“You use eight different facial muscles to chew,” Dr. Ben Kim told She Knows. “Unnecessary chewing can create chronic tightness in two of these muscles, located close to your temples. This can put pressure on the nerves that supply this area of your head, which can lead to chronic, intermittent headaches.”

If you’re used to chewing gum several times a day, it’s likely that you’re experiencing a headache from the constant chewing. Why not give your mouth a break and reach for a fresh breath lozenge or mint? These types of products can do great things for your breath because they increase saliva flow and inhibit the growth of anaerobic bacteria.

The benefits of chewing gum
Gum, whether it has sugar or not, increases saliva flow in the mouth to help wash the teeth and neutralize bacteria. If you are in a dire situation and are opting for a gum with sugar in it, you’ll want to make sure that you chew it for at least 10 to 15 minutes. By this time, there is generally no sugar left in the gum, but the chewing action will stimulate saliva to rinse away the sugar left on the teeth. However, it’s important not to rely on sugary gum because the acid will inevitably erode the teeth over time. Even if you’re looking at a pack of sugar-free gum, make sure to double check the ingredients because some products are made with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which has been linked to birth defects, cancer, diabetes and neurological disorders after long-term consumption.

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