In a previous blog, we talked about food to avoid for your dental health. The majority of these foods were processed and sugary foods. With Halloween and the holidays coming up, there’s no getting around eating a lot of candy and sweets. One way to ward off tooth decaying bacteria that feeds off of sugary foods is by chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol in it. This is Dr. Joe Griffin at Advanced Dental Center of Florence, and today we’d like to talk about sugar-free gum, and how it might be your key to enjoying Halloween and the holidays without worrying about tooh decay.
The History of Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing gum has existed for thousands of years. Only in the beginning, it existed in its natural state. The most frequently used chewing gum was made from tree resin. Ancient civilizations would chew on sweet grasses, leaves, grains, and waxes. Chewing gum existed in multiple types and tastes. Ancient Greeks chewed on Mastiche, which is a type of resin that comes from the mastic tree.
Ancient Mayans chewed on sap from the Sapodilla tree, and North American Native Americans chewed on sap from spruce trees. It wasn’t until 1848 that chewing gum became known on a commercial basis. A man named John Curtis figured out a way to extract and sell spruce gum. They started by turning the tree resin into an elastic substance that was chewable. Eventually, they added flavors to the gum, so that it would taste better.
In 1869, a man named Amos Tyler got the first patent in the U.S. for chewing gum. Only Tyler’s version of chewing gum was made out of charcoal and chalk. Later that year, a Mexican general came up with the idea of chicle. First, he tried to use it to make toys with it. Instead, it formed the basis for modern chewing gum, because he was able to help it keep its flavor. Chicle became a common post-dinner palate cleanser.
Many inventors and entrepreneurs tried perfecting chewing gum over the years, so that it would hold its flavor better. In the 20th century, Dubble Bubble and Wrigley’s were invented. Although, Dubble Bubble still doesn’t hold its flavor well. Chewing gum also became famous in the baseball scene. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that people became health conscious enough for the invention of sugar-free gum.
A dentist named Dr. Petrulis invented sugar free gum. This became the first “dentist approved” chewing gum. Nowadays, there are tons of chewing gums on the market in so many different flavors. There are even medical chewing gums that are supposed to aid in digestion, or help you kick the habit of cigarettes by containing nicotine.
Chewing Gum for Dental Health
You might be wondering how chewing gum can help ward off tooth decay. First, you have to look at what kind of gum you’re chewing. Only gum with the American Dental Association seal is found in clinical studies to be a successful way to help reduce plaque acid, harden your enamel, and lower your cavity rate. Gums with the ADA stamp don’t have sugar in them. They usually have some sort of artificial sweetener.
It’s recommended that you chew sugar-free gum with xylitol. Xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol that starts off as a fibrous wood. Xylitol is proven to help remineralize your enamel. Other studies show that xylitol gum stop the progression of bacteria and plaque penetrating your teeth. Chewing gum also helps stimulate saliva flow after meals, which stops cavities by counterbalancing acids.
The excess saliva also helps wash away sugars and bacteria. So, how do does chewing gum help ward of Halloween tooth decay? Let your children eat chocolate and some of the less sticky candies in moderation during the holidays. Then, have them chew sugar-free gum for about 30 minutes after eating the snack. However, you should take heed that you and your children don’t chew too much gum, because it can be bad for your jaw.