After eating, plaque acid attacks teeth which can lead to tooth decay. This plaque acid can attack teeth for up to two hours. Chewing sugar-free gum after eating and drinking stimulates saliva by up to 10 times. Saliva contains bicarbonate which helps neutralise the acids. Saliva also contains calcium, phosphate and flouride to repair early damage which may otherwise develop into decay.
If you are a mouth breather, suffer with reflux or consume a lot of acidic foods, fizzy drinks or sports drinks you are especially vulnerable to demineralization. Chewing gum containing 100% Xylitol is particularly beneficial. Xylitol is a natural sugar, not an artificial sweetener and is safe for diabetics. It helps to actively prevent decay by interfering with the bacteria’s ability to produce the acids. This blocks communication between the bacteria which helps hold them together in the plaque, making it less sticky. Bacterial numbers are significantly reduced in the presence of Xylitol. Xylitol also binds with calcium maintaining a super saturated calcium level within the mouth which is beneficial for the remineralization of the teeth. (Xylitol can also be found in some toothpastes, mouthwashes and mints.)
Of course, chewing sugar-free gum or using other adjunct should not replace the powerful effects of brushing nor be a reason to disregard tooth friendly diet choices.