Chewing gum is a national obsession in the United States. More than $2 billion worth of gum is sold annually (that’s 1.74 trillion sticks of gum) and the average American pops 280 pieces of gum in their mouth each year.

But is all that gum good for your oral health or is it helping create cavities? Simply put, it depends on what type of gum you are chewing (and unfortunately, much of the gum consumed in the United States is sugared gum).

If you are chewing sugarless gum with something called Xylitol, then you are providing your teeth with a double-dose of goodness. Researchers have found through clinical studies that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after you finish a meal can help prevent your teeth from decaying.

How does sugarless gum aid in cavity fighting? It encourages the flow of saliva in your mouth, which is a very good thing. Saliva is sort of the wonder potion for your mouth, washing away food debris, neutralizing acids that bacteria in your mouth produce (and which lead to cavities), and adding calcium and phosphate to help strengthen the enamel on your teeth. See what we mean – saliva is amazing for oral health!

Bacteria are especially impacted by avoiding sugared gum and instead chewing sugarless gum. Bacteria feed on sugar and use it as fuel to produce acids which eat away at your teeth. So avoiding sugar reduces the bacteria in your mouth and makes it a safer place to keep your teeth happy.

Look for a sugarless gum that has Xylitol when you are purchasing your supply of sugarless gum. Xylitol is a proven plaque-fighter, and plaque is that sticky stuff in your mouth that turns to tartar and can impacts your oral health. Another good ingredient to look for in your sugarless gum is Recaldent, which is said to assist in remineralize and hardening of tooth enamel, making your teeth stronger and less likely to suffer from tooth decay.

But remember, sugarless gum is not a substitute for brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. But chewing sugarless gum with Xylitol and Recaldent is a great way to boost your oral health care routine and increase the protection of your teeth.

So the next time you are picking up a pack or container of gum, be sure to reach for the sugarless gum with Xylitol and Recaldent. You can satisfy your need for a sweet treat and at the same time enhance your oral health.

Your mouth will thank you.

SOURCES: American Dental Association and Colgate