Chewing gum and mints: Do either of these help with oral health?

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Two kinds of candy that have been related to oral health are mints and chewing gum. As your local Shepparton dentist, we are often asked about both of them. Although, generally speaking, candy is labelled as being quite harmful to teeth. So, it begs the question of whether chewing gum and mints are helpful or harmful to teeth overall.

At Maude Street Dental, we believe the simplest answer to this is that they both potentially have the ability to harm and help oral health. Are you a little confused? In our article, we will detail some of the advantages and disadvantages of chewing gum and mints.

ADVANTAGES

Protection for teeth: It has been discovered that the artificial sweetener, Xylitol, which is found in mints and sugar-free chewing gum prevents bacteria from clinging and growing on teeth.

So, in fact, Xylitol goes some way to protect teeth by stopping dental cavities from forming. Nonetheless, sugar-free gum and mints are reported to be beneficial, particularly following meals. The ADA (American Dental Association) further notes that chewing gum for approximately 20 minutes after eating food can reduce the chance of cavities.

Boosting the production of saliva: Another advantage of chewing gum and mints is that they drastically increase the creation of saliva in the mouth. Saliva has significant roles to play in sustaining oral health, including enamel strengthening, acid neutralization, flushing excess bacteria and food particles in the mouth. Increased saliva production is particularly vital for those who are suffering from chronic dry mouth. This professional dentist in Richmond Hill NY highly recommends chewing sugar-free gum after a meal to help neutralize the acid in your mouth.

Sucking mints or chewing gum is an excellent way to fight against dry mouth, provided, of course, you use sugar-free options. Reduction in tooth sensitivity Tooth sensitivity is also reduced when chewing gum, particularly for those who have recently had their teeth whitened.

Following teeth whitening treatments, some patients’ teeth can feel extra sensitive. So, chewing gum (sugar-free) will help increase the creation of saliva in the mouth, strengthening the enamel and decreasing tooth sensitivity. Sugar-free mints are also good for increasing saliva production.

DISADVANTAGES:

Increased risk of cavities – jaw pain When purchasing mints or chewing gum, it is worth paying attention to the ingredients label to ensure they are sugar-free and not the regular kind with sucrose.

Sucrose is the sugar typically used in the manufacture of mints and gum and is a major source of food for bacteria.

Bacteria in the mouth is ultimately responsible for gum disease and tooth decay. So, when you eat mints or gum that contain sucrose, it increases the population of bacteria, thus elevating the chances of cavities developing. Increase in mouth acid Not only is sucrose the primary food source for bacteria, but it also increases the production of acid waste.

Mints and chewing gum also contain citric acids and other acids used for flavouring candies. This results in your mouth becoming more acidic, which causes enamel erosion and tooth decay.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD): Most of the time, you will not cause any harm to your jaw from chewing gum. With that said, chewing gum can, over time, take its toll on your jaw.

The constant chewing motion may, after a while, lead to TMD, causing headaches, jaw, and facial pain. If you feel signs of jaw pain when you chew gum, make an appointment to speak to your dentist.

Mick Pacholli

Mick created TAGG - The Alternative Gig Guide in 1979 with Helmut Katterl, the world's first real Street Magazine. He had been involved with his fathers publishing business, Toorak Times and associated publications since 1972.  Mick was also involved in Melbourne's music scene for a number of years opening venues, discovering and managing bands and providing information and support for the industry. Mick has also created a number of local festivals and is involved in not for profit and supporting local charities.        

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