Chewing gum has been an enjoyable habit for millions of Americans since the early 1900s. Many people chew gum for a tasty treat, as a breath freshener, or as a way to kick a bad habit. Sugar-free gum was introduced in the 1950s as a healthier option for gum chewers, and it is still being advertised today as a way to prevent cavities from developing in the teeth.
The mouth is a complex system that handles much more than many people are aware of. For instance, most people are unaware that at any given moment on any given day there are millions of bacteria inside their mouth. These bacteria serve the purpose of helping to dispose of the tiny food particles that are left behind in your mouth after eating and drinking. While these bacteria have a helpful purpose, they utilize the production of acid to help them break down the particles at a faster rate. Acids are notorious for eating their way through whatever is in their path, and inside your mouth, this would be your teeth. Cavities are the direct result of acids eating tiny holes in the tooth enamel.
Chewing gum aids in cavity prevention by increasing the amount of saliva that is produced inside the mouth. Saliva is one of the most overlooked oral components, yet it plays a vital role. Saliva helps to wash bacteria away from the teeth and out of the mouth. A mouth that is consistently dry will allow bacteria to easily attach to the teeth, hardening, and continue to produce damaging acids. By chewing gum, your mouth remains moist and helps to prevent bacteria from coating the teeth.
Of course, it is important to remember that you must choose a healthy option when chewing gum. Sugar-free gum was introduced with the sole intent of providing people a means of enjoying gum without damaging their smile. If you chew gum that is laden with sugar, you are simply leaving tiny sugar particles inside the mouth after you are done. Bacteria will then congregate at these sugary particles in huge quantities, producing pools of acids in those isolated spots.
At Southern Charm Dental, we want to partner with our patients in cavity prevention in whatever healthy means possible. We will happily recommend a sugar-free gum that will promote a healthy mouth.