After you enjoy some garlic stir-fry or a burger with lots of onions in it, you might pop a piece of gum in your mouth to try to get rid of your bad breath. Or maybe you chew gum when you’re bored so you don’t end up munching on unhealthy foods. But did you knew that gum can actually do more than just freshen you up and help you fight cravings? It has the potential to protect your oral health, which is why your dentist might recommend that you chomp on some gummy goodness after your meals.
How Chewing Gum Helps
Saliva is one of your mouth’s main defenses against bacteria. It rinses away those icky germs that cause plaque and tartar, protecting your smile against tooth decay. It also neutralizes acids from sugary treats and other foods that might harm your pearly whites. When you chew gum, it encourages saliva production, giving your teeth and gums the moisture they need to stay nice and clean.
How Can I Get the Most Benefit From Chewing Gum?
For your oral health to get the most out of the power of chewing gum, there are a few simple guidelines you should follow:
- Chew gum for about 20 minutes after you enjoy a meal; this is enough time to get those salivary glands working enough to rinse away leftover food particles. Don’t chew for too long, though; you don’t want to stress out your TMJ joint.
- Only chew sugar-free gums. Gums with sugar in them also increase saliva production, but the sweet stuff that makes them taste yummy is your oral health’s worst nightmare.
- Look for chewing gums that have the American Dental Association seal of approval. This ensures that the product won’t hurt your teeth.
- Don’t be fooled by gums that claim to whiten your teeth. While these are highly unlikely to hurt your pearly whites, they’re also unlikely to brighten their appearance. If you want whiter teeth, you’ll have to pursue other options.
Does Chewing Gum Replace Brushing and Flossing?
No! While chewing gum can do great things for keeping your mouth clean, it should never be considered a replacement for brushing and flossing. The fluoride in toothpaste, combined with the gentle scrubbing power of a toothbrush, can vanquish plaque and help to fortify your tooth enamel. Flossing helps to clean the tight spaces between teeth. Gum can work with them to protect your smile, but it won’t be able to keep your chompers in great shape all by itself.
Chewing gum isn’t just for kids! It can be a great asset for your oral health. Why not go to the local convenience store and pick up a pack in your favorite flavor today?
About Your Dentists
Drs. Neil Flenniken and Suzan Rismani-Flenniken are proud to be your dentists in Vienna. Through preventive dentistry and other procedures, they help keep their patients’ smiles clean, healthy, and gorgeous. If you have questions about how to care for your teeth or gums, please contact our office at 703-714-7374.