Chewing Gum And Dental Health

By Kenneth Bagby, D.D.S. on July 09, 2017

Chewing gum can be beneficial to our oral health. How? The chewing of sugarless gum can: increase saliva, and help to clean the surfaces of the teeth and the gum line. Chewing gum is not a new habit. Ancient peoples like the Greeks, the Mayans, and the Native People from this continent, chewed on substances that were very much like today’s chewing gum. Obviously, those versions of chewing gum were natural—some tribes of Native Americans even used tree sap as a form of chewing gum. Today’s chewing gums are made from synthetic materials: artificial sweeteners, softeners like glycerin, and flavorings. And many people consider chewing gum to be candy, but it’s not, and there are chewing gums for sale that have received the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval. The ADA Seal is said to be given out to a product that can be demonstrated, using scientific means alone, to help and protect the surfaces of the teeth.

Why Increased Saliva is Beneficial

The physical act of chewing increases our mouth’s salivary flow. Gum, obviously, stimulates our mouths to produce saliva. Saliva is important because it can help to wash the surfaces of the teeth. After we eat, acids are produced by bacteria, within our mouths, and saliva helps to remove that acid before it causes damage. Long term exposure to acid can cause our tooth enamel to break down. When tooth enamel breaks down, tooth decay happens.

Now, chewing gum should never replace a daily oral routine of brushing twice and flossing at least once. Yes, studies do show that chewing gum for twenty minutes after a meal will help to prevent tooth decay. But, remove the foundation of cleaning—brushing and flossing—and the gum isn’t going to help you. When you brush, brush for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, covering all the surfaces of each tooth.

If you are ready to schedule your next appointment with Dr. Bagby—remember visits to your dentist for a checkup and a cleaning contribute greatly to quality oral care—then call today.

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