Carrying around a pack of gum and popping a piece in your mouth every now and then seems totally harmless, but do your teeth agree? Your Kelowna dentists explain what chewing gum actually does to your teeth.
Where Did Gum Come From?
Chewing gum has been around for centuries. Although it may have had a different appearance, the practice of chewing on something but not swallowing it has taken place over centuries. Ancient Greeks, Mayans, Native Americans and European settlers all used to chew the sap from various trees in their areas. Thankfully, we have left the sap behind and moved onto more modern chewing gum. These new and improved gums mostly contain a gum base, artificial sweeteners, a softening agent, and different flavours and colours.
The Benefits of Chewing Gum
Increased saliva flow. A huge benefit to chewing gum is the increase in saliva production. As the saliva works its way around your mouth, it helps bathe the teeth, preventing tooth decay. The increased saliva flow in your mouth will also keep enamel strong and healthy.
Prevent bad breath and a cottonmouth. Since chewing gum increases the amount of saliva cruising through your mouth, bad breath and a dry mouth are easily corrected by chewing on a stick of your favourite sugar-free gum.
Keep acidic bacteria at bay. Chewing gum for at least 20 minutes after a meal can keep acidic plaque from forming on your teeth and increase the chances of your enamel staying in tip-top form. Your Kelowna dental clinic recommends brushing and flossing at least two times a day as well since chewing gum should not be substituted in place of either of these practices.
The Risks of Chewing Gum
Jaw pain. Although you may not suffer from jaw pain, chewing gum frequently may lead to some jaw discomfort. If you notice some discomfort the next time you slip a piece of gum past your teeth, consult your local Kelowna dentist to reduce the risk of jaw pain.
Sugary gum. Chewing gums filled with sugar can lead to cavities and tooth decay. Switching to a sugar-free gum is the best decision you can make to keep your teeth bright, white, and perfectly healthy. Gums that include certain sugar replacements such as xylitol—a naturally occurring sweetener—can actually trick bacteria in your mouth to thinking that it’s sugar. When the bacteria can’t digest the sugar, they actually starve and die off.
If the benefits outweigh the risks of chewing gum for you, just be sure to choose sugar-free gum. Kelowna dentists agree that choosing sugar-free gum is the healthiest option when reaching for a pack of gum at the grocery store or gas station.
Whether you’re visiting us for cosmetic or general dentistry, we provide a comfortable experience with results that will last. Contact us to book an appointment today!
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