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Several chewing gum commercials advertise chewing their gum after meals to help clean the teeth. I was chewing today and realized that there is never a point when I am chewing that it actually touches the surfaces of my teeth, only the actually chewing faces touch it, so are the advertisements accurate?

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

Yes, according to the American Dental Association, chewing suger-free gum does have the benefit of increasing saliva flow which helps to neutralize and wash way acids that may be generated by bacteria in plaque on your teeth. Additionally, some chewing gum also has additives that also assist in building up your teeth.

Package of gum with ADA seal

However, this does not apply to all chewing gum and may apply to some that have not been approved by the ADA. However, if they have the seal shown above then they have been proven to meet the following requirements:

A company earns the ADA Seal for its product by showing with scientific evidence that the chewing gum is effective for one or more specific indications, such as reducing plaque acids, promoting remineralization of tooth enamel, reducing cavities and/or reducing gingivitis. Studies must also show that the gum is safe to oral tissues. The manufacturer must provide the results of both laboratory studies and clinical studies in humans.

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just those that have been approved by the ADA That is probably not correct, there may be chewing gums that help, that do not have the seal. Considering the requirements it may be too expensive for smaller companies. However only for those with seal it is guaranteed(at least as far as the evidence). –  Stefan Jan 8 '13 at 20:22
    
@Stefan - Correct, those that have been approved by the ADA have been checked ensure that they are effective; however, those that have not been approved may still be effective. –  rob Jan 8 '13 at 20:43
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Thanks for updating ;) +1 –  Stefan Jan 8 '13 at 20:57
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it may be too expensive for smaller companies - and the converse for my cynical (skeptic?) mind: large companies might just buy the approval without showing proper evidence. –  a different ben Aug 28 '13 at 1:12
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It's not the gum itself that cleans your teeth (unless you have something stuck between your teeth I suppose) it's the increased saliva. The increase in saliva washes away some of the plaque that's stuck to your teeth. By chewing your brain thinks you are eating and therefore need increased levels of saliva. This dilutes any acid (e.g. from fruit juice). By chewing sugar free gum you get this increase without leaving anything behind e.g. sugar.

My brother was born without enamel on his teeth and chewing gum was recommended to him by the dentist when he was so young that most parents wouldn't have allowed him gum.

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Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims. Also note that the second part of your answer is anecdotal in nature and thus not what we are looking for. –  Sklivvz Jan 8 '13 at 20:44
    
@Sklivvz: There was this one time we used anecdotal evidence, but it didn't work out. –  Stuart Pegg Jan 9 '13 at 11:44
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