Can Chewing Gum Really Prevent Cavities?
The mouth is a more complicated part of the body than people generally give it credit for. It is an essential part that allows food and drinks to keep us healthy (or not so healthy, depending upon your dietary choices), it allows us to breathe and to communicate with both words and expressions. The mouth is also a host to millions of bacteria that can wreak havoc in a short amount of time.
Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria on any given day. While this sounds scary, and it can be, the oral bacteria are meant to be helpful. Every time you eat or drink anything other than water, tiny particles are left behind in the mouth. The oral bacteria go at once to defend your mouth by breaking down these particles. Yet, in their efforts to help they quickly turn harmful. As the bacteria work to break down food and beverage particles, they begin to produce acids to assist them in their work. When acids begin to develop inside the mouth, they attack the tooth enamel and eat their way through it. This is how cavities develop – acids eat tiny holes in the teeth that cannot heal.
Chewing gum can help to prevent the destruction of acid-producing bacteria. One of the most undervalued components of oral health is saliva production. Saliva works to keep the mouth moist, and it also helps to wash away particles left behind after a snack, meal, or beverage, as well as the overabundance of bacteria inside the mouth. When the mouth is dry, bacteria are able to easily attach themselves to the teeth as they work to break down food and drink particles. Cavities can develop extremely quickly in a dry mouth because there is no moisture to help prevent it. Chewing gum increases the amount of saliva that the mouth produces, thus helping to wash away both particles and bacteria.
Of course, it is vital that you chew a sugar-free chewing gum. Gum that is laden with sugar only leaves particles of sugar behind, enticing the oral bacteria left inside the mouth to produce more acid.
At Clearwater Dentistry, we want you to do your part in keeping your smile clean and healthy. Chewing gum is a habit that can benefit your teeth, and we are happy to recommend a sugar-free option for you. Of course, chewing gum should never replace daily flossing and brushing, but it can be an added source of cavity prevention.