Remember when your parents used to tell you that gum could stay in your stomach for all eternity?  How about getting rotten teeth from chewing gum?  The myths are endless!  The surprising thing is that, gum can also be held responsible for reducing cavities!  Researchers have been able to show that chewing certain types of gum aids in cavity protection.  So what about an expecting mother who chews gum?  It can also minimize her unborn child’s cavities.

Chewing gum is a great bonus to dental care, but your parents were right when they said this: gum can cause cavities.  While gum helps your saliva glands to produce more saliva, certain gums contain sugars that contribute to tooth decay.  Sugar and saliva interact to create a breeding ground for streptococci bacteria.  This string of bacteria hails from the same family that is responsible for strep throat.  When streptococci bacteria are introduced to sugar, they use sugar to generate acids.  The acids produced then go on to damage tooth enamel and tooth decay.  Saliva is beneficial when it comes to counterbalancing the bacteria in your mouth, but excessive sugar floods and undermines the neutralizing effects of saliva.  

The reason parents were fearful of gum creating cavities is found in the way sugar gum reacts with saliva.  The more acid produced, the less capabilities saliva glands have in washing the acid away.  When the acid stays in your mouth, a breeding ground for enamel damage and tooth decay persists.  

When it comes to infants having bacteria in their mouths, there’s a mystery of how it gets there in the first place.  Mother’s introduce bacteria, including streptococci, to their child while in the womb.  Thanks to research, researchers can now utilize chewing gum to combat the streptococci bacteria.  Here is how it all works.  There’s a sugar that usually comes from corncobs, Xylitol, that happens to occur naturally.  It’s unlike table sugar.  Table sugar does activate the creation of acid in your mouth.  The great benefit of having Xylitol is that it does not encourage acid production.  The benefits don’t end here - Xylitol is not broken down by streptococci and also acts as a barrier to stop acid from attaching to teeth.  Scientists have found that the end result of what Xylitol does is not only increase saliva production but, it also washes out as much as 90% of streptococci.  

The expecting mother needs to maintain her dental health and in turn, the baby’s mouth will be healthy.  The less streptococci in a mother’s mouth equals less streptococci in the baby’s mouth.  Researchers placed expectant mothers under observation in the remaining 3 months to their delivery date.  These mothers chewed gum that was sweetened with Xylitol.  By the time the kids were at the age of 2, researchers continued to have test periods that would examine the presence of bacteria in these children’s oral cavity.  There was a decreased existence of streptococci in the mouths of children whose mothers had chewed the gum that was sweetened with Xylitol during their pregnancy.   

Your teeth can actually get stronger with Xylitol gum.  Chewing Xylitol gum is beneficial in creating remineralization – this is the process of having increased saliva production and having decreased acid.  Remineralization takes the responsibility of reversing the process that leads to cavities while mending tooth enamel.  

At the end of the gum dental myth, there are partial truths.  Gum that contains sugar can lead to children having rotten teeth and tons of cavities.  Meanwhile, Xylitol sweetened gum is able to make your child’s teeth stronger while sustaining their enamel.  Dental health all begins with the mother even before the child is born.  Proper dental care will ensure that both mother and child take preventative measures for oral health.