Tooth Enamel

Chewing Gum: Yes or No?

Ellis Dental Chewing Gum
Ellis Dental Chewing Gum

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.

Does Coffee Really Erode Tooth Enamel?

Many leading oral hygiene manufacturers are now producing toothpastes which they market as being able to protect against enamel loss. That sounds like a pretty bold statement. Can these toothpastes really reverse or stop the damage? Tooth erosion generally occurs over a fairly long period of time unless there is an accident or injury that cracks the tooth. Many times erosion happens due to involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth while sleeping and is often not detected until the enamel is badly damaged.

Deteriorating enamel is also caused by what we eat and drink. Certain foods and liquids leave an acid based plaque coating on the teeth. Then as we age and our saliva production decreases it becomes harder for these acids to be washed away. Red wine, coffee and tea are all liquids which both stain and weaken tooth enamel. Citrus drinks, such as orange juice, sodas; both diet and regular and some even sports drinks can easily cause erosion problems along with foods with a high sugar and starch content.

Research has determined those new enamel strengthening toothpastes can be beneficial but don’t actually rebuild the enamel in as much as they make the tooth’s surface more resilient. But it is important to remember just using a special toothpaste isn’t going to save your enamel. Limit consumption of acidic beverages and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially apples, celery and carrots. These fibrous foods help with salvia production and work to clean plaque off the teeth.

When selecting a toothpaste, scientists agree any well formulated fluoride toothpaste will help make your enamel more acid resistant. Always choose a major brand name since more research and development has gone into crafting the correct formulation. Then also select a paste with a pleasing taste. If it doesn’t taste good, you won’t be as eager to brush for the prescribed two minutes twice a day.

Concerned about the condition of your enamel? Please schedule an appointment with Ellis Dental today.

Photo Credit

What is Tooth Enamel and How to Protect It

Many of our posts mention tooth enamel but we’ve never really discussed in detail exactly what tooth enamel is and the best way to care for it. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your mouth. When you look at a tooth, the enamel is what you are seeing; it covers the entire outer layer of the tooth. Enamel is primarily made up of hydroxyapatite. This is a natural calcium mineral generally found in both tooth enamel and bone. This mineral compound is semi-translucent and can vary in shades from pale yellow, grayish white and off white. Because of its translucency, tooth color is only partially based on the enamel shade.

There are no living cells in tooth enamel and it can’t regenerate like other body parts. When tooth enamel is destroyed, it can potentially cause serious problems. Enamel is the main barrier in guarding your teeth from decay. It also protects all the inner layers from damaging acids and the harmful effects of plaque. The enamel coating keeps your teeth from being damaged by foods and beverages which are too hot or cold.

Because enamel can be broken or dissolved off the tooth, it is important to follow these five tips to help keep your enamel strong.

  • Brush or at least rinse after consuming acidic foods and beverages. Limit your sugar intake.
  • Don’t chew ice and stop biting on non-food items such as the end of pens or your fingernails.
  • When brushing make sure to use a soft brush head in order to not damage the enamel.
  • If you grind your teeth, talk with your dentist about the advantages of a mouth guard.

Interested in learning more about your tooth enamel and how to protect it? Please schedule an appointment with Ellis Dental today.