How beneficial is chewing gum to your oral health?
Providing the chewing gum is sugar-free it can be hugely beneficial to the health of your teeth. How you may ask? Well, chewing increases the production of saliva. Saliva helps to reduce the acid attack to your teeth which can cause decay.
When we have food and drink, the sugar found in these reacts with the plaque bacteria already present in your mouth producing acid. This acid then starts to attack the enamel on the teeth. The enamel starts to dissolve away exposing the dentine, the soft part of the tooth. The acid then starts to attack the dentine. Eventually a cavity is produced (a hole in the tooth).
As well as helping against the fight of tooth decay, chewing gum also helps fight the acids found in fruit juices and fizzy drinks, which can cause dental erosion. Just like above, the acid attacks the enamel removing some of the minerals present. Increased saliva by chewing can help reduce the acid attack. In fact chewing sugar free gum for just 20 minutes after having foods and drinks that contain acid, can help the minerals be replaced quicker.
When is the best time to chew gum?
Chewing gum is most beneficial straight after eating or drinking. Most sugar-free gum contains Xylitol, a natural sweetener proven to help reduce tooth decay. Chewing gum is also great for bad breath. The increased saliva production prevents your mouth becoming dry which can cause bad breath, whilst the mint flavouring ensures your breath smells fresh.
Its never a good idea to give chewing gum to a child under the age of 7. They risk swallowing the gum or worse choking on it.
Always make sure that once you have finished chewing the gum throw it in the bin!
Chewing gum is no excuse for not brushing your teeth. Plaque is constantly being built up on and around your teeth throughout the day and as we eat food particles can become trapped. The only real way of ensuring your teeth stay decay free is to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and use floss or interdental brushes to clean in between the teeth.
Will normal chewing gum not be as beneficial?
Ordinary chewing gum will still increase the saliva flow but many contain sugar. By chewing these instead of sugar free gum you are subjecting your teeth to more sugar, instead of trying to wash the existing presence of sugar away.
For more advice regarding your oral health speak to one of our hygienists. As well as cleaning your teeth they can advise and demonstrate the best way to keep your teeth clean.