My friend and colleague, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, a brilliant functional medicine physician, emailed me a great question from one of her patients the other day. The patient asked:
You only have to chew for about five minutes to get the benefits. The saliva production that occurs after gum chewing is way more effective than rinsing with mouthwash or water. That’s because saliva promotes remineralization—which is the process of replacing minerals in the teeth. Cavities form when a tooth loses minerals (demineralizes) faster than it replaces those minerals (remineralizes). Saliva encourages remineralization, helping your teeth replace minerals at a faster rate than it loses minerals to acids.
An ingredient called xylitol also promotes remineralization. Xylitol is a common ingredient in many natural chewing gums.
Drinking alkaline liquids after a meal also helps. Pellegrino has a pH of 7.9, but Perrier has a pH of 5.9. So you have to know your liquids! Tap water usually is on the acidic side of the pH scale.
It’s as simple as that! Your saliva is the best thing you’ve got to protect your teeth from acid-causing bacteria. As it is with most health-related issues, mother nature has a built in solution that is better than any product you can buy in the store.
Mark Burhenne DDS
What about you? How do you keep your teeth clean in between meals? Share your tips in the comments below!
I highly recommend Dr. Kara Fitzgerald’s podcast, New Frontiers in Functional Medicine.