Chewing gum has been advertised in magazines, on the TV, and even in dentists’ offices as a method for preventing the development of cavities. Many people look at these and wonder, “Does it really work?”
People chew gum for a variety of reasons: some simply enjoy the taste, some use it to fight stress, many people chew gum as a distraction from breaking a negative habit (e.g. smoking), and others pop it in their mouth after a particularly potent meal. Whatever your reason for chewing gum, it is encouraging to know that chewing gum can help prevent cavities. However, it is essential that you choose the type of gum that you will chew carefully.
Sugar free gum can help prevent the development of cavities because it increases the amount of saliva that is produced inside the mouth. The back molars are rough teeth with deep grooves and pits on their top surfaces. Food particles easily become trapped in these areas after eating. Extra saliva production helps to rinse these trapped particles away from the teeth and out of the mouth. This is important because the oral bacteria that are constantly present inside the mouth thrive on particles left behind. Their one “job” is to break down these particles, yet the way in which they work can be detrimental to the health of the teeth.
Oral bacteria congregate around particles left behind in the mouth and begin producing acids to help break them down. As with all acids, the acid produced by oral bacteria eat their way through whatever is in their path – this being your tooth enamel. It is acid inside the mouth that causes holes, or cavities, in the teeth. Because the bacteria in the mouth are most attracted to sugar particles, it is essential that you chew gum that is sugar free. Otherwise, you are inviting the production of even more acids to wreak havoc on your oral health.
At Heritage Dental, we want to promote cavity prevention in the best ways possible. Nothing can take the place of flossing and brushing, but for those who enjoy chewing gum it is nice to know that you can protect your teeth with this habit. Contact us today for recommendations for sugar-free gum or to schedule an appointment with us.