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The holidays bring lots of opportunities for snacking on treats throughout the day–but no one has “developing a cavity” on their holiday to-do list! However, not everyone has the opportunity to brush their teeth after they snack. To combat this problem, chew sugarless gum! While not a substitute for twice daily brushing and daily flossing, chewing sugar-free gum helps prevent cavities in the meantime by stimulating your salivary glands to produce more saliva. It is the saliva that fights cavities, not the gum itself.

To understand how saliva fights cavities, it is necessary to know how cavities form in the first place. Primarily, cavities form due to acid erosion. There are bacteria that live in your mouth. Those bacteria eat food particles and sugars in your mouth and create acid. The acids eat away at tooth enamel, eventually causing a hole to form. This hole is called a cavity. It can also form due to acid erosion from external acidic sources, such as lemon, energy drinks, or sports drinks.

Saliva, however, helps to neutralize these acids, as well as distributing beneficial substances to tooth enamel. It also flushes away the food particles and debris, which limits bacterial growth. This helps prevent cavities from forming.

Chewing sugarless gum stimulates saliva flow. Of course, chewing other types of gum and candy also stimulates saliva flow, however, the sugars present in the gum feed the bacteria that produce acid. This negates the benefits of chewing gum in the first place. Stick to sugarless gum for a healthy and happy mouth this season!

Dr. Zachary Allmand and our team look forward to making your smile shine! For more information, call Monon Family Dental in Indianapolis, Indiana, at 317-810-9285.