Chewing sugar free gum for 20 minutes after meals and snacks has been shown to significantly reverse early signs of tooth decay.
Stimulated saliva contains a higher concentration of the same types of calcium, phosphate and hydroxyl ions that occur normally in teeth then unstimulated saliva,
Consequently, stimulated saliva is a more effective medium for remineralizing enamel crystals damaged by initial caries attack.
After meals and snacks, bacteria in plague produce acids, which cause the pH in the mouth to fall. If the pH falls below the critical level of 5.5 the tooth enamel starts to demineralize or dissolve and small white lesions may appear.
Stimulation of saliva flow results in an increase in the washing out of acids and also an increase in the amount and concentration of remineralization ions.
It is these ions that help to repair these early signs of tooth decay.
Remineralization of enamel lesions can occur with or without chewing sugar free gum. However, it has been shown that when patients chew sugar free gum regularly after meals and snacks remineralization is doubled in comparison with those who do not chew sugar free gum.
Stimulated saliva also has a higher concentration of bicarbonate, which raises the pH of saliva and greatly improves its buffering ability.
Stimulated saliva through chewing sugar free gum is therefore much more effective at neutralizing plague acids in the mouth.
Some sugar-free gums contain micro granules made of sodium polyphosphate-an ingredient proven to adhere to the surface of teeth to provide cleaning benefits such as stain prevention and removal, pellicle removal and prevention of calculus or tartar formation.
Another additive in some sugar free gums is xylotol, which is a naturally occurring non-fermentable polyol, which has been clinically proven to have anti-cariogenic properties in addition to helping reduce plague formation.
So,chewing sugar free gum stimulates saliva; helps clear food debris, neutralizes plague acid and remineralizes tooth enamel.
The chewing action also helps to remove surface plague.
Chewing sugar free gum should never replace brushing and flossing, but if it is used after eating or wherever brushing teeth is impractical it is an enjoyable way to help protect teeth from decay.