Most of us chew gum because it helps to freshen breath. Or we use it as a stress reliever, like a way to replace cigarettes. However, did you know that chewing gum could also help you to fight cavities and tooth decay? Some dental professionals and researchers have linked chewing gum to healthier teeth. Of course, not all gum is created equal and there are some catches to using chewing gum to prevent cavities.
So, How Exactly Does Chewing Gum Fight Cavities and Tooth Decay?
When you chew gum, your mouth produces more saliva, which helps to cleanse the mouth of acids and bacteria that can be harmful to your teeth. For those who have poor saliva production, chewing gum could help to increase the amount of saliva. A dry mouth can lead to dental problems such as cavities and tooth decay.
Chewing gum also helps to remove plaque buildup. When plaque forms around the teeth and is not removed, demineralization occurs and cavities are most likely to develop.
Some chewing gums also contain artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol that will kill the types of bacteria that grow in the mouth. By killing off these bacteria, you are less likely to develop cavities.
Which Types of Chewing Gum Help Prevent Cavities?
Of course, gums with natural sweeteners will not be beneficial to helping you to prevent developing dental cavities. Chewing gum that contains sugar is actually harmful to your teeth. However, if you do not like gums that contain artificial sweeteners, it is important that you do not spit out your gum too soon. You should chew the gum past the point of it losing its sugary taste. This way your mouth is able to produce enough saliva to remove most of the sugar from the mouth as well as the bacteria that your saliva produced when it was exposed to the sugar.
Chewing gums that contain artificial sweeteners are the recommended types for helping to fight cavities. Your dentist may recommend a brand that he feels is the best in his professional opinion.
Who Should Avoid Chewing Gum for Dental Hygiene?
Chewing gum can help some people to fight cavities but there are certain people who may want to avoid using this tactic. If you have TMJ*, the affects of chewing gum outweigh the benefits you may receive.
* The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. The joint can be found on both sides of your head in front of your ears. It allows your jaw to open and close, enabling you to speak and eat.
People who have dental appliances in their mouths may need to avoid chewing gum. If you have braces, you may want to avoid gum since pieces of the gum could become lodged in them. Removing gum from braces can be difficult and tedious work.
In addition, if you have major dental problems you may need to avoid chewing gum. If you have dental problems that have been untreated such as large cavities, major decay, or cracked/loose crowns you may need to avoid gum. Gum can stick to these areas and worsen the issues.
Chewing gum can help stave off hunger, help some people to stop smoking, reduce stress, freshen the breath, and help some people to fight cavities. Chewing gum for some people is a great addition to their overall dental hygiene care. However, it is important to understand that chewing gum should never replace proper oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing. This should only be used as a supplement to your overall oral care practices.