While chewing gum containing sugar increases your risk of developing a cavity, sugar-free gum actually has the opposite effect.
Sugar-free gum can be particularly beneficial between meals. After eating, your teeth are more susceptible to damage caused by enamel-dissolving acids. Because the physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva (the mouth’s natural defense against acid), smacking on some sugar-free gum after grabbing a bite helps to protect your teeth by washing away acid and food particles.
Increased saliva production isn’t even the only benefit; gum that uses the natural sweetener xylitol tastes just like sugar gum, but with fewer calories and virtually none of the harmful effects. Studies have shown that xylitol, which doesn’t break down like regular sugar, is actually rather helpful in preventing tooth decay by inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
Marketing can be deceiving, and even products branded as being sugar-free can contain potentially harmful artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Instead, you might want to choose options that carry the Canadian Dental Association seal: Dentyne Ice Sugarless Gum, Trident Sugarless Gum, and Wrigley Orbit Sugar-Free Gum.