Gum is Good for You!

Posted by M ws On Tuesday, October 23, 2012 0 comments
A few days ago, Ezekiel J Emanuel wrote an article called Your Assignment for today: Chew Gum where he said:

WHEN I was growing up, you would be sent down to the principal’s office for chewing gum in school. We were told chewing gum was bad; it caused cavities.

Like chocolate and coffee, gum is now being rehabilitated. It turns out that sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities in children. Instead of banning it, we should require children to chew it in school to promote their oral health.

 The human mouth is host to many bacteria. The one that is primarily responsible for cavities is called streptococcus mutans (it’s related to the bacteria that causes strep throat). When the bacteria encounters sugar, it produces acids. Saliva neutralizes acid, so teeth can handle some exposure. But large amounts of sugar — as found in candy or sugary beverages — overwhelm saliva. Prolonged exposure to that acid will damage the protective enamel on teeth — a process called “demineralization” — and eventually cause cavities.

Chewing gum of any kind increases saliva production, and therefore helps neutralize more acid. But many gums are sweetened with sugar, which of course increases the acid levels, effectively canceling out the positive benefits. Replacing sugar in gum with xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener found in fruits and vegetables that has fewer calories than regular sugar, fixes this problem.

More saliva and less acid seems to cause the teeth to remineralize — that is, it actually reverses some cavities. But most important, chewing xylitol gum inhibits the growth of the strep bacteria, which are not able to metabolize the sweetener. Less virulent strains of bacteria slip off the teeth, and this positive xylitol effect lasts years. The gum seems to work best when it’s chewed routinely just before children’s adult teeth come in, at about ages 5 and 6.

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