Chewing gum began to become popular around 1800 when settlers learned the habit from Native Americans. Shortly after this, chewing gum began to be manufactured in Europe and sold to the curious public, and we have been enjoying it ever since.
As a forty-something I was brought up believing chewing gum was bad for my teeth just like chocolate, and back then it was universally laden with sugar and was indeed a disaster for teeth.
More recently, most but not all chewing gum has become sugar free. This has changed it from a dental problem into a dental solution.
Obviously getting rid of the sugar has helped enormously, but why are dentists now recommending chewing gum so strongly?
The main reason is it increases the saliva you produce. Saliva helps clean the teeth but more importantly it neutralises the acids that cause tooth decay.
Large studies have been carried out on this effect and it is estimated that regular sugar free chewing gum use reduces cavaties by 50%!!!!!!
Recent studies have indicated that gum sweetened with xylitol may be even better with decay reduction by up to 75% but this is not yet proven.
This is a game changer for people who have a lot of dental decay.