Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: Something to sink your teeth into: Sugarless gum

In Brief

Something to sink your teeth into: Sugarless gum

Many of the bacteria that reside on our teeth in dental plaque have quite the sweet tooth. And to our great dental misfortune, when they satisfy their appetites for sugar (and other carbohydrates), they produce acids that eat away at the enamel of the very teeth they call home. Cavities are the result.

But our mouths are potentially well supplied with a substance that can go a long ways towards counteracting the acid: saliva. It's quite alkaline and does a good job of neutralizing the acids that the bacteria produce as they sup on the sweet stuff.

So how to get the mouth watering and the pH level up? Ogle pictures in gourmet food magazines? Might work. But chewing gum is probably more practical for most of us.

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