A recent study found sugar-free products can be just as damaging to your teeth as sugar because many of them contain acid that causes tooth erosion. But what about sugar-free gum?
If you’re regularly chewing gum containing sugar, then you are at risk of developing dental caries (tooth decay). (Mia Freedman on why her teeth are so white. Post continues after video.)
But if you’re regularly chewing a sugar-free gum, evidence over the past 30 years shows you will be stimulating the production of saliva which is beneficial to your oral health.
Saliva contains minerals that are essential for healthy teeth and which neutralise the acids in plaque which feed bacteria that cause caries.
Conventional sugar-free gums that are recognised as having potential oral health benefits include Orbit® sugar-free mint gum and Extra sugar-free peppermint and spearmint gums.
Not all gum is created equal.
Be aware, if your sugar-free gum contains food acids, which are added to some gums for flavour, you could be causing dental erosion. Unlike dental caries, dental erosion is not caused by sugar or bacteria, but occurs when acid dissolves the hard tissues of the tooth.
In its early stages, erosion strips away the surface layers of tooth enamel and in advanced stages it can expose the softer dentine or even the soft centre (or “pulp”) of the tooth.
In its early stages, erosion can cause sensitivity to cold foods. If it progresses, then more severe pain is likely. Not all sugar-free gums contain food acids and, generally speaking, mint-flavoured gums are less likely to be erosive than other flavours.