Recently, major gum brands such as Trident and Orbit have released supposed teeth whitening gums that claim to serve the double function of freshening breath and creating brighter, shinier smiles. But do these gums really work? The short answer: sort of… Tooth discoloration occurs for two main reasons. First, the glossy, white outer layer of the tooth called enamel naturally wears down over time, exposing a darker, lower layer known as dentin. Secondly, enamel is a porous material that absorbs the coloration of the foods, liquids and substances we put in our mouths. Therefore, using tobacco or regularly drinking coffee, red wine, or sugary sodas can stain enamel, leaving teeth with an unpleasant, yellowish tint. Tooth whitening gums fight against these stains with a variety of ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) which removes stains from enamel and Recaldent (essentially an extra dose of calcium) which remineralizes enamel. However, the actual effects are minimal at best. A 2007 Good Housekeeping study ranked teeth whitening gum at the very bottom of over-the-counter teeth whitening products. Testers in the study chewed whitening gums four times per day for six weeks. The results were almost undetectable, whitening teeth at best by only one shade even after extensive use. Where the gums do show promising results is in the prevention of tooth discoloration. After you eat a meal, chewing a piece of sugarless gum can help dislodge stain-causing, food particles stuck between teeth. In addition, chewing gum induces salivation. Natural saliva contains doses of calcium and phosphate that remineralize enamel and prevent stains from ever appearing. This being said, whitening gums are still not substitutes for the normal dental care recommended by your dentist. Brushing, flossing, abstaining from tobacco products and moderating coffee, tea and soda intake, and getting regular teeth cleanings at your dentist are still the best methods of maintaining a healthy mouth and a bright, beautiful smile. Contact Greenspoint Dental to learn more about how to keep your teeth white and bright.