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Category: Gum Disease

The Benefits of Chewing Sugar-Free Gum

You may have heard that chewing gum is bad for your teeth, but the act itself is not harmful. In fact, gum can actually be good for your teeth, depending on the ingredients it contains. It is important to monitor the ingredients in your gum and the length of time your teeth are exposed to certain harmful ingredients. Namely, sugar.

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While it is an accepted fact in the dental community, many people often question whether chewing gum is good for their oral health. Doubters can rest easy knowing that scientific evidence and numerous studies have shown that munching on sugarless gum is beneficial for your chompers.

How Does Chewing Sugarless Gum Help?

One major way gum helps is by increasing the production of saliva in the mouth, which:

  • Reduces dry mouth
  • Helps neutralize acids
  • Remineralizes enamel
  • Washes away food particles

When you eat or drink, your teeth are exposed to acid that is produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down sugar and carbohydrates. The acid erodes your tooth enamel over time, which causes tooth decay. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which neutralizes the acid. Saliva also helps dissolve sugars that might be stuck in the gaps between the teeth, limiting the growth of bacteria and acid. Chewing gum can also help dislodge food particles and break up plaque.

Why Sugar-Free Gum?

Although chewing gum is beneficial, sugary gum negates those benefits by increasing the presence of sugar in your mouth. It is important to limit your sugar consumption (even in the form of gum) because bacteria in the mouth feed off sugar and produce decay-causing acids.

When you chew gum that contains sugar, the sugar is dissolved in the saliva and is absorbed by bacteria in plaque. Once a bacterial cell absorbs the sugar, it is supplied with the energy it needs to multiply. If the bacteria is not removed with brushing, it will fester, which can result in gum disease and tooth decay.

On the flip side, chewing gum that contains xylitol has the exact opposite effect. Xylitol is a sweetener that is found naturally in fruits and vegetables. It has 40 percent fewer calories than sucrose (another name for sugar) and can be consumed safely by diabetics. Xylitol is also easily absorbed by bacteria, but once it is absorbed, the cell will try to expel it. Because the energy is used to expel the xylitol and not to reproduce, a bacterial cell is less able to stick to the teeth, and it eventually dies.

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ADA Approved

Sugar-free gums that have the American Dental Association® (ADA) Seal of Acceptance are sweetened with sweeteners that do not cause cavities, such as aspartame, sorbitol, xylitol, or mannitol. The following gums have the ADA Seal and meet ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness:

  • Dentyne® Ice™ Sugarless Gum
  • Trident® Sugarless Gum
  • Wrigley’s 5® Sugar Free Gum
  • Wrigley’s Extra® Sugar Free Gum
  • Wrigley’s Orbit® for Kids Sugar Free Gum
  • Wrigley’s Orbit® Sugar Free Gum

Dentists and the ADA recommend chewing gum for 20 minutes after eating and drinking.

While sugar-free gum is beneficial, chewing gum does not replace brushing and flossing. It may not be a good idea to chew gum excessively, as TMJ may occur or be aggravated. It is important to remember to maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing at least twice per day and flossing at least once per day.

If you would like more information regarding your dental health and learn of other steps to help fight cavities, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling my Beverly Hills practice at (310) 273-0111, or you can fill out our online contact form.

How to Tell if You Have Gum Disease

Healthy teeth depend on healthy gums. Gum disease is a common condition that ranges from simple inflammation of the gums to significant tissue and bone damage that leads to tooth loss. The following indicators can tell you if you have gum disease. With proper dental hygiene and professional dental treatments, you can manage your gum disease, improve your health, and save your teeth.

How to Recognize Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. It is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria. Bacteria, which are all over the human mouth, can build up with mucus and food particles to form plaque. When plaque hardens into tartar, and you do not go in for regular dental cleanings, the tartar can inflame the gums. With gingivitis, the gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily, but the teeth themselves are usually unaffected.

How to Recognize Periodontitis

Teeth infographic. Gum disease stagesPeriodontitis occurs when gingivitis is not treated. Periodontitis is when inflammation occurs around the tooth, and the gums pull away from the teeth. These spaces between the gums and teeth are called pockets and can become infected. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream, leading to an immune response to fight the bacteria. Eventually, the teeth may loosen and must be removed.

Other Symptoms of Gum Disease

You may also have gum disease if you have the following symptoms:

  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Bleeding from the gums when flossing or brushing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gums (teeth look longer)
  • Loose or sensitive teeth

The Gum Pocket Test

A dental professional can check your gum pockets to determine what form of treatment is necessary. A tiny probe is used to measure the depth of the gum pockets on the sides and middle of each tooth. If these pockets are between one and three millimeters, the gums are healthy. If you have deeper pockets, the gums may feel tender or painful during this probe test. Pockets deeper than four millimeters often require special treatment.

Treating Gum Disease

Dental hygiene is a critical part of maintaining healthy gums. Daily brushing and flossing with regular dental cleanings at your dentist’s office can reverse gingivitis. If you smoke, quitting smoking can help improve gum and tooth health. A deep cleaning treatment called scaling and root planing may be recommended for patients with periodontitis. Scaling is when the tartar is scraped from the tooth both above and below the gum line. Root planing is when the bacteria and rough spots on the tooth root are removed. Medications or mouthwashes may be recommended to limit bacteria. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary, and some teeth may need to be removed.

It is important to pay attention to your gums and obey recommended oral hygiene practices to guard against gum disease. If you suspect you have gum disease, get your teeth inspected by your dentist. With treatment, you can have healthy gums, healthy teeth, and a natural smile you can be proud of.

To schedule a dental appointment with Cosmetic Dentist to the Stars, Dr. Kevin Sands, please call (310) 273-0111 or fill out our online contact form today.

Tel: (310) 273-0111

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Contact Dr. Sands

Request an appointment for a consultation with cosmetic dentist Dr. Sands, or feel free to call our Los Angeles (north of Orange County) office at (310) 273-0111 for more information.