We’re going to switch topics from dental veneers today to talk about an underrated dental health tip. Dr. Joe Griffin is here in Florence, SC blogging to discuss the benefits and facts behind chewing gum.
There’s a reason it’s easy to get into the habit of chewing gum. Say you’re at work and you just finished your second cup of morning coffee. Your teeth start to feel like they’re wearing wool sweaters. Your mouth gets dry, and you can feel your brown coffee breath seeping out by the second. What do you do? Pop in a piece of chewing gum for instant relief, of course.
Chewing gum can actually be good or bad for your dental health, depending on a variety of factors.
What is Chewing Gum?
Chances are that you’ve had chewing gum before. If you’ve ever stepped in it, then you definitely know the sticky nature of gum. But, it only becomes sticky after it’s been chewed or melted, almost magically sticky.
The physical quality of gum is based on how it’s made. Chewing gum is made by melting a gum base and a variety of flavor ingredients together. The ingredients are warmed and mixed together into a dough-like substance.
A variety of artificial chemicals are mixed in, including a type of rubber called chicle. Chicle is a soft substance that gets softer the longer it is warmed in your mouth. Gum manufacturers are able to harden the unchewed gum by allowing it to cool.
The Kind of Gum Matters
You should try and use chewing gum that has an American Dental Association seal. The ADA seal will show you that the brand is safe and effective at protecting your teeth.
You should also make sure that your chewing sugar-free gum, because sugar-containing gum causes tooth decay and can have the same negative effects as candy. Typically, sugar-free gum uses non-cavity causing sweeteners like aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol, or mannitol.
A few popular brands that have the ADA seal include: 5 Sugarfree Gum, Dentyne Ice, Extra Sugarfree Gum, Trident, Stride, and Orbits Sugarfree gum. As you can tell, there are a lot of brands that meet the ADA standards for effectively fighting cavities, so it’s pretty easy to obtain.
However, even though these brands of gum meets the ADA standards, you should make sure that you’re still maintaining a healthy flossing and brushing regimen.
How Does Chewing Gum Work?
You probably already know that sugar-free gum has a lot of instantly gratifying functions like getting rid of dry mouth and bad breath. Beyond these benefits, chewing gum also helps defend against the progression of tooth decay.
Saliva is your body’s organic protective mechanism for tooth decay. It has compounds that help counteract cavity-causing acids. Gum works by physically increasing the amount of saliva in your mouth. It’s most beneficial when you chew it after consuming food.
When you eat food, the bacteria lurking in your mouth break down the food to produce acid, which in turn is harmful to the enamel in your teeth.
This is where chewing gum comes in to save the day, the extra saliva production from the chewing gum rinses away the bacteria and acid that are trying to break down your enamel.
Saliva also helps protect your teeth by working as a carrier of calcium and phosphate, two minerals that play a substantial role in rebuilding your tooth enamel. Studies show that chewing an ADA approved sugar-free gum at least 20 minutes after a meal will help stop tooth decay. It’s also found that gum containing fluoride helps in remineralizing your teeth.
Other Health Benefits of Gum
Gum has also been found to help improve brain function, relieve stress, and promote memory. The act of chewing gum helps to improve your memory by stimulating your hippocampus, the part of your brain that’s responsible for memory.
It also works by increasing the amount of blood your brain is getting. Not to mention, the pulsing repetitive motion of chewing gum has been found to have stress-reducing properties. It also works by helping to release nervous energy, making it a good method for warding off anxiety.
The act of chewing gum lowers your cortisol levels in stressful situations, which in turn helps increase your alertness. With that being said, you can use chewing gum as a mechanism to take away tiredness when you need to stay awake. This makes gum the ultimate study and test-taking tool.
Some studies claim that gum is also helpful for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The idea is that the saliva increases swallowing, which helps to counteract the acid in your throat.
Chew sugar-free gum for your oral health and make sure that the brand is ADA approved. Try to chew gum within 20 minutes of finishing a meal. You should make sure that you’re still brushing your teeth and flossing regularly. Chewing gum is never an alternative for brushing and flossing. If you have dental veneers, then you should try and avoid chewing gum. Chewing gum can get caught in your veneer or negatively effect the bonding.