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Chew on This: Sugar Free Gum Can Help Keep Cavities Away!

I love sugar free gum. My desk drawer, coat pockets and purse are always well-stocked with at least a few pieces. I chew it when I’m stressed, I chew it when I’m happy, I chew it even when it’s not considered polite to chew it (Sorry, Mom!) But for as many pieces as I pop into my mouth without much thought throughout the day, there is one time it is a very conscious decision – after eating. I don’t always have the time or tools to brush, but I’ve always got a piece of gum! And as it turns out, chewing gum may actually be helping me keep my teeth in tip-top shape. I’d heard this before, but feared it was just an old wives’ tale!

I recently came across an answer from Dr. Anthony Komaroff on CantonRep.com. The question? “I always thought chewing gum was bad for my teeth. But then a friend told me it actually helps prevent cavities. Who’s right?” Well, given the title of the article – Ask Dr. K: Sugarless gum can help prevent cavities – I’d say her friend is right!

The doctor goes on to explain that sweets-loving bacteria live in our dental plaque, and “get the energy they need to live by consuming sugars in the foods you eat.” But these bacteria aren’t just your run-of-the-mill freeloaders living off your hard-earned lunch! No, they aren’t content to just eat your sugars and call it a day, they have to take it one step further and produce acids when they eat your sugar. And the acids? Those can lead to the big bad of the dental world – Cavities! But your body doesn’t want these acids to win; it has a vested interest in protecting itself. So it brings saliva to the rescue – saliva that “washes away the acids.” And when you chew gum, you get your saliva production kicked up a gear, giving your body more ammo against the acid.

Just be sure that if you’re really interested in preserving your teeth you reach for the sugarless gum. An occasional piece of sugared gum can be enjoyed just like candy, but chewing it for long periods regularly will just be giving those bacteria a bigger bite. Luckily, your sugar free gum options are extensive and delicious! There’s Dentyne Pure, a personal favorite – Sugarless Bubble Yum, a kid-friendly classic pick – Trident Splash, with a flavorful middle – Orbit gum, an oh-so-popular pick (I’m chewing Maui Melon Mint as I type!) – and many, many more. Now get chewing, everyone! :)

Nostalgic Gum – Sticks of Memories

Just like so many of you, I include candy as a major memory trigger for me, whether the memory involves the candy itself or is generally representative of a point in time. But it isn’t candy alone that occupies the sweet spectrum of my mind – there’s enough gum in there as well to make my 4th grade teacher give me detention!

It never fails to surprise me how quickly and vividly recollections of the past swim over me when I really think about a specific candy or gum. Sure, I see them all the time, but so often we are rather oblivious to our surroundings. In the name of being more present and conscious, I will share the memories that come to mind when I think about 2 favorite nostalgic gums. I hope my memories spark some of your own, and that you’ll share with us all in the comments! :)

Fruit Stripe Gum – I enjoyed a pack of Fruit Stripe gum recently, and am happy to report that it tastes the same as it did years ago. It has the same powdery finish, the familiar colored stripes, and while I’m not positive it had “Yipes In Action” tattoos on the wrappers in the past, it certainly does now! And of course there is the adorable Fruit Stripe Zebra, playing soccer as zebras so often do! But what has changed is the packaging itself. When I was a youngster Fruit Stripe gum came in a tin, much like past containers of Band-Aids. And while the gum was a tasty treat, deciding what to do with the tin upon the gum’s completion was a fiesta of fun! It often held change, though it was no stranger to ChapStick and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers. And I can’t forget the notes passed in class! Oh yes, saved notes were perfect for the Fruit Stripe gum tins, and the bonus was that spending enough time in the tin made them smell ever-so-faintly fruity.

Freedent Gum – Freedent gum reminds me of my Gram. She had false teeth, and Freedent was her gum of choice as it didn’t stick to her teeth, and it had a fresh, minty flavor. My Gram only ever chewed a half stick of gum at a time, and kept her gum in the cabinet above the microwave, near the drinking glasses. Her glasses were stored on a Lazy Susan, and I would always spin them slowly for several minutes before choosing which I’d use that day. She had been to visit a lot of places over the years, and I think she bought a glass everywhere she went. Finding the perfect one took some time! Once I’d picked my glass, I would fill it with ice cubes and Ginger Ale – Gram always had Ginger Ale – and then I’d nonchalantly ask if I could have a piece of Freedent (as if I didn’t ask every time!). Gram was always generous with whatever she had, and her favorite gum was no exception. But while we both enjoyed Freedent, unlike her I liked to chew a lot of gum at once, so I would chew the half-piece that was almost always there along with a full piece for the perfect amount!

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