People have been chewing gum for centuries. The earliest known gum-chewers included the Mayans, ancient Greeks, and Native Americans of New England, who all chewed tree sap. While today’s gum is made from other ingredients, the habit of chewing remains. But is chewing gum a bad habit or a beneficial one? Ask your Overland Park dentist, and we’ll tell you that it depends on the gum. As long as the gum you’re chewing is sugar-free, you can reap a variety of benefits.
Here are a few things you might not have known about chewing gum and how it affects your oral health:
1. Chewing Gum Increases Beneficial Saliva Flow
Saliva helps to clean your teeth and wash away particles of food and other debris that can lead to plaque, bad breath, and other problems. Chewing gum actually helps to increase your mouth’s production of saliva. Your body produces saliva when you chew to help you break down food, and chewing gum can activate those same saliva glands to help increase healthy saliva flow. This not only keeps your mouth from drying out, it can even help prevent tooth decay!
2. Chewing Gum Helps Prevent Tooth Decay
That’s right. Because saliva is one of your first lines of defense against harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth decay, chewing gum can actually help to protect your teeth. Plus, your saliva actually contains beneficial calcium and fluoride that can help strengthen the enamel of your teeth!
3. Chewing Gum Helps Whiten Your Teeth
We all want brighter, whiter, healthier smiles, right? And you Overland Park dentist offers a variety of options to help with teeth whitening, from in-office procedures to take-home trays. But there are also plenty of things that can stain your teeth, from eating dark red fruits to drinking coffee or smoking. Fortunately, chewing gum can also help to keep your teeth whiter by literally helping to scrub your teeth as you chew. There are even tooth-whitening brands of chewing gum available!
4. Chewing Gum Helps Freshen Your Breath
These days, we no longer chew tree sap. Most chewing gum is flavored, and those flavors bring with them scents that can freshen your mouth and cover up the odor of bad breath. If you suffer from persistent bad breath, though, it’s time to talk to your Overland Park dentist.
Some studies have also found that chewing gum can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and provide other benefits throughout your day.
If you enjoy chewing gum, you should feel free to keep doing it! Just make sure that you choose sugar-free gum and remember that chewing gum is no substitute for brushing, flossing, and regular visits to your Overland Park dentist! Watts Family Dental is happy to suggest some quality sugar-free gum that is good for your teeth. Just give us a call at (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment or ask any questions you may have!