As far as habits go, if you can find one that benefits you then by all means start it! Chewing gum has been a habit that Americans have enjoyed for over 100 years. It has been used as a breath freshener, a tasty treat, and a means to break bad habits like smoking and biting the fingernails. However, there is another benefit to chewing gum that may surprise you. Chewing gum can help to prevent cavities from forming inside your mouth. Knowing how it works and what type of gum to chew is the key to getting the most out of this tasty habit.
To grasp how chewing gum can prevent cavities, you first need to understand how the mouth works. Every day, there are millions of bacteria that call your mouth their home. As disgusting as this sounds, these bacteria mean to be helpful. Each time you eat or drink anything other than water, tiny particles are left behind inside your mouth. The oral bacteria gather around these particles and help break them down so they do not remain stuck between your teeth. However, their helpfulness is short lived because as they go to work they begin producing acids to assist them. Acids are well known for eating their way through anything in their path – this being your tooth enamel when referring to oral acids. When acids eat their way through the enamel, they leave tiny holes known as cavities in their wake.
Chewing gum plays an important part in preventing the bacteria from producing acids. As you chew gum, the saliva production inside your mouth increases. A moist mouth is less likely to harbor bacteria because the teeth and gum line will be too slippery for them to hang on to. With the increased amount of saliva, the bacteria will also be washed away from the mouth to limit their large numbers.
Of course, it is imperative that you chew sugarless gum in order to recoup the full benefits of this simple habit. If you chew gum that is laden with sugar, you are simply leaving deposits of sugar behind for bacteria to congregate around. Sugar-free gum is the only type of gum that has beneficial properties.
Pristine Dental, we are happy to recommend a sugar-free gum to you. Of course, chewing gum should never replace daily flossing or brushing, but it can be an added habit that helps to promote oral health.