You’ve heard it a million times, or at least twice a year at your regular dental checkup: you need to be flossing more regularly. The recommendation to brush twice and floss at least once daily is clear. With crazy schedules and this go-go-go world, however, taking the time to floss at times can seem like it’s just too much to ask.
If you need to work on your flossing skills, you’ll be happy to find that there is one seemingly bad habit that can actually improve your overall oral health: chewing gum. Should you replace your irregular flossing habits with regular gum-chewing? Check out these fun facts below and decide for yourself.
- Chewing Gum Really Does Clean Your Teeth: Before you go and throw out your toothbrush, however, there is a catch: the gum must be sugar-free. Chewing a big piece of Dubble Bubble isn’t going to clean anything, but a small piece of freshening gum that contains xylitol helps to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that lead to decay. This is especially effective when you pop a piece in your mouth right after eating.
- Gum Goes Where Flossing Can’t: Chewing gum doesn’t only help with freshening your breath, it can also get into those tiny crevices that your floss and toothbrush can’t. With its unique texture and stickiness, gum is essentially a magnet for all of those little food particles that might be hiding just out of reach of your other dental tools.
- Switch Out Your Pieces Often: While chewing gum has its obvious benefits, studies have shown that chewing the same piece of gum for a prolonged period of time can actually lessen the benefits due to the bacteria collected being released back into your mouth and starting the process all over again. After studying this hot topic, researchers suggest that you chew the same piece of gum no longer than ten minutes to get the maximum cleansing benefit.
- Chewing Gum Relieves Stress: You heard that right. A mouth cleansing tool that can also boost your mood and lower anxiety levels? You couldn’t really ask for more in something that costs less than ten cents per piece.
While chewing a piece of sugar-free gum after a meal has obvious benefits, it shouldn’t replace your actual dental health habits. Studies have shown that a 5cm piece of floss removed roughly the same amount of bacteria from between teeth that a piece of gum did, so rest assured that flossing is still beneficial to your oral health.
If you just don’t have time to brush or floss after a work meeting or running to pick up the kids from soccer practice, make sure to keep a piece of xylitol-containing gum on hand and get many of the benefits of flossing wrapped up in a tiny, silver package.