An often overlooked area to improve our dental health is regular use of chewing gum. It is important to choose the right type of gum for the job. We do not always have the time or means to fully clean our teeth after eating. Here are some suggestions.
Types Of Chewing Gum
-Gum Containing Sugar. When chewing gum containing sugar, you are releasing sugar into the mouth. This gives the natural oral bacteria in your mouth food to feed upon to multiply and grow. This can lead to tooth decay if not properly removed. There are studies that show that if you continue to chew the gum for a bit after the initial sugar is displaced, the increased saliva flow may negate the effects of the initial sugar release. This means you need to chew sugar gum after the sweet flavor is gone to have any effect.
-Gum Containing Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame or Sucralose). By chewing gum with an artificial sweetener you will not release the harmful sugars into your mouth. The benefit of chewing this type of gum means you get the full effect of chewing gum quickly. This effect is saliva stimulation which can wash away food debris and bacteria in the mouth. Chewing sugar free gum for 10-15 minutes after eating can have a tremendous benefit to your oral health.
-Gum Containing Xylitol. Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol creates an uninviting environment for oral bacteria. The bacteria simply cannot attach themselves to teeth in a xylitol rich environment. This is the mechanism by which xyltiol protects the teeth from tooth decay. With Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. The bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, so their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid producing bacteria may decrease by as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not drop ( a drop in ph is what normally happens after eating sugar and carbs). After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well to the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases. Many people are not aware of this ancillary benefit because such a claim labels xylitol as a drug. This crosses a legal boundary not allowed by the FDA. It has been recommended that you chew a piece of xylitol gum after every meal or snack to gain maximum benefit to your teeth.
When sugarfree gum is not available, sugarfree breath mints can also help increase your saliva flow. The mints however, do not have the added benefit of stickiness to help pull sugar and carbohydrates off of the teeth. Drinking a full glass of water, swishing and swallowing can also help when you are unable to brush.
**Be sure to read labels. You may find that sugar is labeled zero with or without an asterick. This just means that there are under .5 grams of sugar per serving. Tic Tac has gotten away with this by having a serving be 1 tic tac which is .49 g. So even though the tic tac is actually 97% sugar, they are able to label the sugar as zero. Look at the list of ingredients not the quick glance nutrition label.**
Dental Hygiene Tips
-Brush, Floss, Rinse Every Day. We all know this already, but do we do it properly? These simple tasks are often overlooked in our busy schedules. Brushing at least 2x per day for 2 minutes each time along with flossing at least once per day and rinsing with an antibacterial or fluoride rinse will be a great start to a healthy smile.
-Avoid Sugary Foods And Drinks. Foods high in sugar give the oral bacteria the nutrition it needs to create an acidic environment inside your mouth and can lead to harmful tooth decay.
-Get Plenty Of Vitamin C. A diet deficient in vitamin C can lead to dental health issues like loose teeth and bleeding gum. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits. Important to note that citrus fruits are highly acidic so you should rinse with water afterwards to neutralize the acids so as not to harm your teeth.
-Choose Crunchy Foods. While not a replacement for dental floss, eating hard, crunchy raw foods (like carrots, celery, nuts, and apples) can naturally clean your teeth and freshen your breath.
-Get Your Daily Amount Of Calcium. This will not only keep your teeth strong but also the bones in your body. Good sources of Calcium include milk, soybeans, and cheese. Also, ensure you get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium properly. A good source of vitamin D is from the sun. So get outside and exercise!
-Drink Lots Of Water. Drinking water throughout the day will keep your teeth and body healthy and hydrated. Water is far better for you than any other beverage you can drink. Rinsing after every meal or snack with water will help maintain your dental health. The water can neutralize the acids being produced by the oral bacteria. This will in turn limit the amount of tooth decay that can occur.
-See Your Dentist Regularly. Seems like an easy one but often neglected. It is important to not only get your teeth professionally cleaned but also to ward off any problems while in their earliest stages.
Chewing Gum Conclusion
There are lots of things that should be part of our daily routine to maintain our dental health. Those looking for maximum benefit should incorporate chewing gum into their routine. The benefits will lead to cleaner teeth, fresher breath, fewer cavities, and a lifetime of smiles.