Chewing gum can help keep your mouth clean in between brushing. In fact, studies have shown that chewing gum for 20 minutes after eating can even help prevent cavities! Let’s talk about how this works.
The key to chewing gum’s success lies in your body’s first defense against cavities: saliva. Saliva cleans food particles and debris away from teeth, fortifies tooth enamel, and neutralizes acids present in your mouth. To understand why this is helpful, let’s look at how cavities form.
There are bacteria (also referred to as microflora) that live in your mouth. The bacteria come together to form a sticky film called plaque, which coats your teeth and gums. The plaque feeds on the sugars from food particles left in your mouth; they then create an acidic byproduct that eats away at your enamel. In combating this cycle, saliva cleans the plaque away from teeth, cleans the food away from the plaque, washes the acids away from your mouth, and fortifies the enamel itself.
Of course, chewing sugar-sweetened gum also stimulates saliva. However, the sugars spread around the mouth, feeding the very bacteria that are causing cavities. This extra sugar negates the benefits of chewing gum in the first place. Stick with sugarless gum for a healthy smile! Alternatively, you may decide to suck on sugarless candies for a similar effect.
For more information, call our dental office in Ventura, California, at 805-654-1174. Dr. Greg L. Wolfe and our team are here to help you!