Is Sugar-Free Gum Bad for Teeth — And Are Mints Better?

Dr. Oz has the answer.

Q: Is sugar-free gum bad for teeth — and are mints better?

Oz says: Gum's not terrible, and may be a smarter choice than mints. All that chewing produces more saliva, which washes away cavity-causing acids that naturally form in your mouth, explains Margherita Fontana, DDS, PhD, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. Popping a piece also helps clean leftover bits of food from your teeth. If your favorite gum contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol, some research shows that it could even help prevent cavities through an extra antimicrobial effect (although you'd have to chomp it many times a day, every day, to really see a difference).

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Not a gum lover? Sugar-free mints have some of the same benefits, says Fontana. Go for the strong ones: The more intense their flavor, the more they may stimulate saliva. They just don't tend to stick around as long as gum does.

This story originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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