Today we’re talking about gums and not the kind that are in your mouth! (Although this is a dental blog and it certainly would make sense if we were talking about your gums.) Hmmmn, that brings to mind a homonym – gums and gums, as in the variety of types of gums you can chew vs. the gums that are in our mouths! Today, we’ll discuss the chewing variety.
We’ll start with the parents. Many parents ask me if it’s ok for their children to chew gum. Apart from the obvious choking danger when they are too young, is there ever a good time to chew? The answer, surprisingly, is yes and it holds true for both kids and adults. Here’s why. The act of chewing gum produces saliva. In fact, it actually increases the flow of saliva in the mouth and this increase helps to neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when your mouth goes into overtime after a meal. When you are finished eating, the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth starts to break down the food you’ve eaten and this produces acids. These acids are what break down your tooth enamel. Believe it or not, a number of clinical studies have actually proven that chewing a sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can actually help prevent this breakdown and therefore prevent tooth decay. So, whether child or adult, chewing gum can be a good thing.
It’s important to note that chewing gum should never replace the act of brushing teeth. First and foremost this is your best defense against cavities. But the truth is many of us don’t have easy access to do so between meals because we are work or school. If that’s the case, chewing gum (always of the sugarless variety) is certainly going to potentially do more good than harm. Of course, it’s a separate discussion about artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and aspartame but that will be for another blog! In the meantime, here are a couple of other benefits to chewing gum: when you are on a plane, chewing gum during take off and landing can actually help prevent that build up of pressure in your ears that causes them to “pop.” Because the tubes in your ears respond slowly to changing air pressure, the act of swallowing encourages them to open. Chewing gum generates saliva…therefore, more swallowing and less pressure build up! It has been suggested that the act of chewing gum can also help with heartburn, particularly if spearmint flavoured because spearmint acts as a digestive aid. We don’t make this stuff up folks…it’s been studied. Perhaps try a stick of gum in place of your usual antacid the next time you eat a big meal!
That’s it for our “on gum and gums” episode of Brinkley Blogs. Thank you for joining us and we encourage you to reach out to the Brinkley Brampton team for all of your dental needs. We specialize in families. Let our family help your family and, as always, ”don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”