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From time to time, everyone craves something sweet. It is perfectly normal to succumb to your sweet tooth now and again. However, it is important to remember that sugary snacks and desserts contribute to tooth decay, and their intake should be limited.

If your sweet tooth is talking to you, you might want to consider reaching for a piece of sugarless gum. Although most people do not think of gum as an aid to your oral health, chewing sugarless gum has benefits for your teeth.

Chewing an American Dental Association-approved sugarless gum for about 20 minutes after a meal will promote the production of saliva. And, saliva is more important than you may think. Much of the food we eat contains acids that contribute to tooth decay. As you chew gum and produce saliva, that acid is neutralized and your teeth are washed clean of leftover food debris. That same saliva also contains calcium and phosphates which will remineralize your teeth. Those minerals will strengthen your tooth enamel, giving your teeth better protection from cavities. Increased saliva production can reduce dry mouth, which can contribute to gum disease and bad breath.

Of course, chewing sugarless gum, even gum that carries that Seal of Acceptance from the ADA is not a substitute for a solid oral hygiene regimen. You need to continue to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss at least once a day. You should also see your dentist for your regular cleanings and exams.

If you have questions about brushing and flossing, or if it is just time for your regular appointment, Dr. John McAllister will be happy to see you! To make an appointment at McAllister Dentistry in Hickory, North Carolina, call 828-322-6731. We’re looking forward to your visit!