Do you like to chew gum? It is often promoted as being a healthy habit for teeth, provided you choose sugar-free gum, but is this really true? This largely depends on the type of chewing gum you choose.
Harmful Effects of Both Gum Containing Sugar and Sugar-Free Gum
If you regularly chew gum containing sugar, then your teeth will be constantly bathed in first sugar, then in the acid produced by mouth bacteria that feed on these sugars.
If you choose sugar-free gum then it is important to take a look at the ingredients. Some sugar-free gums contain acids that help provide flavor, but which can lead to tooth enamel erosion as the acids will gradually dissolve the hard layer of tooth enamel that normally protects your teeth.
This process is called demineralization and will occur whenever you eat something sugary or carbohydrate rich. When eating foods the effects of demineralization will gradually diminish after half an hour to an hour, but if you chew gum for hours on end then the effects will be constant and the damage to your teeth more substantial.
Why Gum Containing Any Sort of Acid Is Bad for Your Teeth
Acid erosion is a real problem for dental health as it can cause permanent damage to your teeth. In the early stages of acid erosion you may notice your teeth feel more sensitive to hot and cold, but as the problem progresses then this tooth sensitivity may turn into pain. Eventually it can lead to cavities that will expose the very innermost part of a tooth called the pulp. If this occurs then the affected tooth can become very painful and infected and will require root canal treatment. The types of gums that tend to contain acids are those that are fruit flavored.
So Which Sort of Chewing Gum Should You Be Choosing?
The American Dental Association does allow the use of its quality seals on certain sugar-free gums that can help oral health. These include gums that can help re-mineralize teeth and which may help neutralize plaque. By choosing a gum with this seal you can be completely sure it will only contain non-cavity causing sweeteners such as xylitol or sorbitol. Chewing these gums will help improve your dental health by stimulating the flow of saliva, making it easier to wash away excess food particles and old skin cells and by maintaining a neutral pH in the mouth so acid erosion is less likely to occur.
Can I Chew Gum Instead of Brushing and Flossing?
Here at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center, we definitely do not recommend chewing gum as a substitute for brushing and flossing. It can be a nice way to end a meal, particularly if you would like to freshen your mouth a little, but you still must brush and floss at least twice a day.
Can Chewing Gum Cause Any Dental Complications?
Chewing gum for many hours each day can lead to your jaw muscles becoming sore or fatigued. If this symptom sounds familiar then stop chewing gum for a while to give your jaw muscles a chance to recover and any inflammation and soreness to disappear. If the symptoms do not go away, then please contact us so we can take a look as the pain may be due to another dental condition caused by clenching and grinding your teeth and which may have been initially aggravated by chewing gum.
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