The holidays bring lots of opportunities for treats and snacking throughout the day. This can damage teeth–but no one has “develop a cavity” on their holiday to-do list! The best way to make sure cavities don’t happen is to brush your teeth after eating. However, not everyone has the opportunity to brush their teeth right after they snack.
How do you help your teeth between eating and brushing? Chew gum! Specifically, sugar-free gum. Chewing sugarless gum helps prevent cavities by stimulating your salivary glands. It is the saliva that combats cavities, not the gum itself.
Saliva is your body’s first natural defense against oral emergencies. To understand how it works, we must first understand how cavities form.
Cavities form primarily from acid erosion. Bacteria in your mouth produce acids, which eat away at tooth enamel–eventually causing a hole to form. We call this hole a cavity. Cavities can also form due to acid erosion from external acidic sources, such as lemon juice, soda, wine, energy drinks, or sports drinks.
Saliva helps neutralize these acids. It also flushes away the food particles and debris that bacteria feed on, reducing acid production. Saliva also delivers beneficial substances to your tooth enamel.
Chewing sugarless gum encourages saliva flow. Of course, chewing other types of gum also stimulates saliva flow, however, the sugars present in the gum feed the bacteria that produce acid. This negates the benefits of chewing gum. Stick to sugarless gum for a happy mouth this season!
For more information, call Gary W. Lee, DDS in Diamond Bar, California, at 909-861-2331. Dr. Gary W.D. Lee and our team are happy to help!