How does it work?Chewing naturally increases the flow of saliva in the mouth. If you’re only chewing sugarless gum rather than food or sugary treats, the saliva flow isn’t busy helping you break down food. Instead, the saliva is free to wash away food particles and neutralize any cavity-causing acids in the mouth. Aside from any washing effects or acid-diluting effects, increased salivary flow is also protective because of some of the factors inside saliva. When your body makes saliva, it also provides disease-fighting substances in your mouth like immunoglobulins, and minerals such as calcium and phosphate to your teeth. This helps protect and strengthen your teeth enamel. Chewing gum also has the benefit of creating mechanical friction as it rubs the top and side surfaces of the teeth. This can serve as a sort of toothbrush when you can’t actually brush your teeth. It isn’t a replacement for brushing, and it certainly does not get between the teeth where only floss or a waterpik can. But, in a pinch, it might just clean up most of the remnants of a meal. Chewing candy/sugar gum can increase baseline salivary flow and does provide the mechanical frictional cleaning benefit. However, it also has the terrible side effect of feeding the bacteria in the mouth the sugar they want. This in turn creates the energy the plaque bacteria need to multiply and causes these bacteria to secrete cavity-causing acids. When you’re away from home and brushing might be delayed, you and your kids can chew on sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals for maximum benefits.
Not For Braces PatientsThis recommendation doesn’t apply to our patients with braces. Most people assume the reason orthodontists advise our braces patients to avoid gum is that it is sticky and might get stuck in the braces or pull them loose. While this is an issue, another critical reason we advise our patients avoid gum is that it creates useless chewing. When in orthodontic treatment, there are many days when the teeth are in an abnormal bite. Overusing the jaw chewing uselessly can inflame any “TMJ” problems that may be lurking. Please avoid gum during orthodontic treatment as it can be very disruptive to your treatment and can possibly cause or inflame significant jaw joint problems.
Look for the ADA sealOnly buy chewing gum with the ADA seal. This means the ADA has examined that all the product claims on the label are true. Gums with the ADA seal are guaranteed sugarless and only sweetened with teeth-friendly sweeteners like xylitol.
Optimal Dental Care Still BestBrush twice a day and floss or use a waterpik between the teeth regularly. Use mouthwash with the ADA seal. Visit your dentist for preventive visits and consider dental sealants, which would protect your child’s teeth. All of these practices are the best prevention for dental problems.
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan
39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI