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Chew on This

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Chewing gum is frequently considered a negative behavior, as a bad habit and as something generally bad for your teeth. But, is chewing gum honestly all that bad for you? As it turns out, it's not that bad for you after all. In fact, there are times when Dr. Warren and Dr. Hagerman say chewing gum is a good idea.

A Brief History of Chewing Gum

Chewing gum isn't new; it has been around since ancient times. While it was not the gum we know today (people used resins, grasses, bark, grains and waxes as gum), the reasons for chewing were much the same: to freshen breath and clean the teeth.

In the mid-1800s, modern chewing gum evolved from resins and grasses to spruce tree sap mixed with wax and flavoring. One of the problems with this early formula was that the mixture failed to hold its flavor. Some years later, sugar, corn syrup and peppermint were added to form the flavors we know today. We're kind of thankful for that, honestly.

Chewing to Fight Cavities

In addition to fighting bad breath, chewing gum was also used to fight cavities. The idea that gum could be used to protect the health of teeth was introduced in 1869 by William Semple, a dentist from Ohio. He believed that chewing gum could not only freshen the breath, but chewing it could also help scrub plaque away from the teeth.

That Sugar, Though

So, even though people were chewing gum to freshen their breath and get food out of their teeth, sugary chewing gum was not the best choice. This is because sugar-filled chewing gum feeds the bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease and tooth decay. Instead of reaching for a sweet and sticky gum full of sugar, we suggest that you try Xylitol gums instead.

Xyli-What?

Xylitol. Xylitol is a sweet-tasting crystalline form of sugar alcohol that comes from xylose, a substance present in some plants. It is also used as an artificial sweetener in some foods. Xylitol can help reduce bacteria levels in your mouth, neutralize acids in your mouth, help prevent acid erosion, stop bacteria from sticking to your teeth and lower the overall pH of your mouth. Xylitol also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps fight cavities by remineralizing your teeth.

Want to make sure your gum-chewing habit isn't hurting your teeth? Make an appointment with Dr. Warren or Dr. Hagerman today by calling 623-748-5162.

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