Most of us have had a moment when we finish eating and are appalled at how un-fresh the meal has left our breath. A common fix is to eat a breath mint or chew a piece of gum to freshen your breath. What you may not know is that eating a piece of sugar-free gum can do more than mask bad breath; it can also help you prevent tooth decay by promoting a healthy flow of water-rich saliva.
Balancing Your Dental Health
Many foods and beverages contain acids that eat away at your teeth. The pH (acid alkaline balance) of your mouth should remain at natural, which is quantified at seven (water also has a neutral balance of seven). Anything less than seven is considered acidic, and anything above is considered base, or alkaline. Once the pH of bacterial plaque in your mouth drops below 5.5, it attacks your teeth, eventually weakening your enamel enough to allow bacteria to reach the more vulnerable parts of your tooth. Made mostly of water, saliva contains natural pH balancing properties to blunt or neutralize acid attacks. When saliva is stimulated (by chewing gum, for instance) it contains a higher pH for greater acid neutralization and protection against tooth decay.
Stimulate Saliva for a Quick Boost in Protection
Your teeth’s protective layer of enamel is comprised of strands of mineral crystals (mainly calcium and phosphate). Enamel does not contain living cells, so if it’s broken, it cannot repair itself. If enamel is weakened, however, it can absorb more calcium and phosphate to form more mineral strands and strengthen itself (remineralization). Unfortunately, our bodies do not produce these minerals, so we must acquire them through our diet. Luckily, your saliva contains enough amounts of these minerals to help enamel remineralize in the midst of attack. Stimulated saliva contains higher concentrations of these minerals for improved enamel aid.
Stick to Your Good Hygiene Routine
Chewing gum can benefit your oral health, but you should not attempt to replace daily oral hygiene routines like brushing and flossing with chewing sugarless gum. You should still brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once, and visit your dentist often for a dental checkup and cleaning.
ABOUT YOUR SHREWSBURY DENTISTS:
At Modern Dentistry, Todd A. Pizzi, DDS, and Luciana Messina, DDS, are dedicated to providing high-quality cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dentistry services to patients and families in Shrewsbury, Worcester, North and South Grafton, Westborough, Southborough, Northborough, Boylston, Hopkinton, Millbury, and all surrounding communities. To schedule your next appointment, contact our office by calling (508) 842-6356 today.