The chewing gum habit has been around long before the commercially manufactured gums of today. Ancient Greeks favored mastic tree sap while the Mayans chewed sap from the sapodilla tree. Here in America, Native Americans passed their love of spruce sap onto the European settlers. The gum base used today is made from a mix of synthetic materials including wax, resin and assorted elastomers. Though most people consider chewing gum to be candy, research by the American Dental Association has shown chewing gum can protect the teeth if used properly. Obviously the best case scenario is to brush and floss after every meal but that isn’t always possible. While many of us use gum to help reduce food related bad breath, most dentists agree chewing gum immediately after eating also helps to wash away harmful acids created when food and liquids come in contact with the always present bacteria in your mouth. The physicality of chewing increases saliva production which in turn helps to neutralize and rinse away those harmful acids. If these acids are allowed to remain on the teeth eventually tooth enamel begins to break down allowing decay to form.
Saliva is basically nothing but water; in fact it’s 99.5 percent water, but that last .5 percent contains numerous enzymes necessary for digestion and dental health. These electrolytes, antibacterial compounds and additional calcium and phosphate all work together to strengthen tooth enamel. Clinical studies have determined chewing sugarless gum after eating increases saliva production which in turn works to prevent tooth decay. Many dental care professionals believe there will soon be chewing gums available containing ingredients that could possibly remineralize teeth, reduce plaque and help gums repel gingivitis.
Curious if chewing gum could help your oral health? Make a note to talk with Dr. Ellis at your next appointment. Live around the St. Louis area and searching for a dentist for you and your family? Please give Ellis Dental a call today at 314.965.1334 for more information.