However, today, our focus is on healthy gum—chewing gum, to be precise. Opting for the right chewing gum can genuinely enhance your dental health.
Oral bacteria utilize the foods we consume, particularly sugars and simple carbs, as fuel to produce acid. These acids attack our tooth enamel, progressively weakening the minerals in the tooth surface and allowing cavities to form. Evidently, we aim to reduce these acids to help prevent decay. Fortunately, our bodies have a natural defense against acid attacks—saliva.
Saliva functions to safeguard our enamel in three ways:
- It helps neutralize and wash away acids in the mouth.
- It rinses away the food particles that bacteria feed on.
- It strengthens teeth by providing the necessary minerals our enamel needs to “remineralize” after acids have weakened the tooth surface.
Studies have revealed that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can aid in cavity prevention. Why? Because chewing gum boosts saliva production. With every stick, you’re reducing the effects of harmful acids, washing food particles away from your teeth, and fortifying weakened enamel! Some artificial sweeteners are even believed to inhibit the growth of bacteria that lead to decay.
Keeping all this in mind, it’s also wise to know when you shouldn’t chew gum:
- When the gum contains sugar. Even with increased saliva production, bathing your teeth in sugar as you chew does your enamel no favors!
- When you wear braces. Gum can adhere to your brackets and between your brackets and wires. While cleaning gum from your appliance is no one’s idea of fun, an even more unpleasant possibility is the chance that gum might distort your wires. Sugarless gum is not as sticky as regular gum, but before you open that first pack, check with your orthodontist to see if you might be jeopardizing your orthodontic work.
- When you have jaw problems such as TMD, TMJ, or other temporomandibular concerns, or if you experience jaw pain while chewing gum.
- You should never give gum to a child too young to understand that it should not be swallowed. Beyond posing a choking hazard, continual gum swallowing can lead to serious problems like diarrhea, blockages, abdominal pain, and more. Consult Dr. Sindledecker and Dr. Saltz about the right age for chewing gum.
While chewing sugarless gum has the potential to enhance dental health, bear in mind that it should never replace regular brushing and flossing—still the most effective way to prevent cavities at home. Talk to Dr. Sindledecker and Dr. Saltz about the possible benefits of sugarless gum during your next visit to our Boca Raton office, and we can provide recommendations based on your individual dental history. Whether it’s healthy gums or healthy gum, we’re here to assist.