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Chew on This!

A pack of American Dental Association (ADA) accepted gum would make the perfect stocking stuffer this year. But where did this timeless confection come from and what makes it ADA accepted? People originally got their chewy fix from tree sap. This treat was called mastiche and while it was a favorite of the ancient Greeks, it was nowhere as tasty as the gum we enjoy today. The word mastiche is derived from the Greek word meaning, “to chew.” Gum makers continued to use tree sap for years but they began using chicle, another form of tree sap. Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, more commonly famed from Battle of the Alamo is also credited with bringing chicle back to the U.S. while in exile from Mexico. Thomas Adams, an American inventor eventually found that heating chicle and sugar with the desired flavor would produce the perfect gum. The product became so popular that there was not enough tree sap to keep up with the demand. It was eventually discovered that chewing gum can actually be good for you. “The physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. If you chew after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, creating the conditions for decay. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel.” Today there is more gum available then we know what to do with but there are a few brands of gum that are actually good for your dental health. The ADA approves several chewing gum brands. These include: Dentyne Ice Sugarless Gum, Stride Sugarless Gum, Trident Sugarless Gum, Wrigley’s Extra Sugarfree Gum, and Wrigley’s Orbit Sugarfree Gum. In order for gum to be approved by the American Dental Association it must meet a few standards. “The gum must show with scientific evidence that it is effective for one or more specific indications, such as reducing plaque acids, promoting re-mineralization 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.” So, this holiday season remember to stuff those stockings with ADA accepted gum and best wishes for a bright holiday season.

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