Looking after our oral health on the go can sometimes be difficult, indulging in that caramel latte on the way to work, rushing lunch before a meeting or a chocolatey mid-afternoon snack to get you through to dinner time all have an impact on our teeth.
Yes, we all may brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, but between the first and last brush, our teeth can come under a constant attack if we don’t give them time to recover.
Our teeth are at risk of acid attack after we eat and drink anything, especially if what we consume has sugar in it. This acid is produced by plaque bacteria, and the sugars in our food and drink, which slowly dissolves the enamel and dentine of the tooth leading to cavities forming.
But evidence has shown that incorporating sugar-free gum into our on the go lifestyles can benefit our oral health. Although not a replacement for brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, chewing after eating or drinking can help our teeth recover quicker and keep our mouths healthy.
Sugar-free gum as part of your oral health routine
The process of chewing sugar-free gum helps the mouth to produce more saliva – the mouth’s natural defence against acid; it usually takes our saliva about an hour to replace the minerals that the enamel has lost after eating. But chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating or drinking increases the flow of saliva, and helps replace the minerals more quickly.
This diagram shows how our tooth enamel is at risk from acid attack after food and drink, and how long it takes the acid level in the mouth to return to the safe zone. pH is the measure of acidity, with levels below 5.5 being acid enough to soften tooth enamel. Chewing sugar-free gum after eating can quickly lower the amount of time that acid attacks the teeth.
Sugar-free gum could be an easy and effective addition to our families’ oral health routines. Dr Smith says that, while brushing for two minutes twice a day is still the best way to keep teeth clean and healthy, chewing sugar-free gum during the day can be effective in neutralising harmful plaque acids and reducing the risk of decay.
Having regular dental check-up’s with Dr Corne Smith your Claremont, Cape Town dentist and seeing your hygienist is also a great way to prevent any major dental problems.