Is Chewing Gum Good Or Bad For Your Teeth?

DID YOU KNOW that the average American consumes 1.8 pounds of gum each year? With so much gum going into our mouths it’s important to know how chewing gum affects our dental health. You may have heard that it’s both good and bad for your teeth… so what’s the real answer? Read on to find out!

Avoid Chewing Gum Sweetened With Sugar

Gum has always been a childhood favorite! What child doesn’t love that sweet burst of flavor or a bubble-blowing competition with friends? Unfortunately, gum sweetened with sugar is bad news for teeth.

When you or your child choose sugary chewing gum, you’re not the only ones satisfying your sweet tooth. The bacteria in our mouths like sugar too! And they enjoy it long after we spit our gum out. These bacteria use sugar as fuel, producing acids that weaken tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Stick To Sugarless Gum

Here’s the good news: chewing sugar-free gum can actually boost your oral health! Chewing gum increases saliva flow in your mouth, strengthening your teeth and washing away food debris and bacteria. While the same is true for sugary gum, the increased saliva flow isn’t quite enough to offset the damage that the sugar can do.

According to the American Dental Association, studies show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can prevent tooth decay. Saliva helps neutralize acids in our mouths after eating. It also contains calcium and phosphate which strengthen tooth enamel, our teeth’s first line of defense against cavity-causing bacteria.

So, when choosing gum, “stick” to the sugarless kind!

Gum Can’t Replace Good Oral Hygiene

Chewing sugar-free gum can only act as a supplement to your daily oral hygiene routine and can’t replace daily brushing and flossing. Keep up your everyday mouth-healthy habits and you’ll have strong, beautiful teeth for life!

Check out the video below to learn more about how chewing sugarless gum can supplement your oral hygiene routine!

Chewing gum is fun and delicious! But remember, the type of gum you choose can make a big difference for your teeth. So next time you’re at the checkout counter and reach for a pack of gum, make sure it’s sugar-free. Your smile will thank you!

One note of caution:  if you are prone to issues with your jaw joint we encourage you to limit the amount of time spent chewing gum as it can often aggravate your jaw joint and increase jaw pain.

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Common Misconceptions About Gum Disease

WE BELIEVE the more educated our patients are about dental health issues, the better they’ll be able to prevent them. We often warn of periodontal disease and the detrimental effects it has on the mouth and body. But there are also many common misconceptions about gum disease. To help you better understand it, we’ve decided to bust some myths today!

Myth #1: Bleeding Gums Are Normal

This is probably one of the most perpetuated dental health myths. The truth is, bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. Gums swell, bleed and become tender when plaque accumulates on the teeth and around the gum line. Keep your gums healthy by removing plaque and food debris with daily brushing and flossing.

Myth #2: People Get Gum Disease Because They Don’t Clean Their Teeth

While poor oral hygiene definitely contributes to the development of gum disease, there can be many other factors involved. Tobacco use, stress, a bad diet, genetics, and certain illnesses such as diabetes can all increase your risk of developing gum disease. And as we’ve explained before, even being pregnant makes you more susceptible!

We also don’t want our patients to think that if they are cavity-free they couldn’t possibly have gum disease. Gum disease is painless in its beginning stages and many people don’t know they have it. That’s why proper oral hygiene and twice-yearly visits to your dentist are essential for your oral health, even if you don’t have a cavity!

Myth #3: Gum Disease Is Irreversible

What we really want our patients to understand is that gum disease is reversible in its earliest stage: gingivitis! The earlier gingivitis is caught, the easier it is to eliminate it before it advances to full-blown periodontitis. Finding out you have gingivitis can be worrisome but here’s the good news: good oral hygiene habits and professional cleanings can, in most cases, rid you of gingivitis and stop gum disease in its tracks.

To learn more about periodontal screenings, check out the video below!

Myth #4: Only Adults Can Get Gum Disease

Gum disease is much more prevalent in adults, but that doesn’t mean that our children are invulnerable. Children can be more susceptible to gum disease if they are genetically predisposed or have certain illnesses such as autoimmune disorders or diabetes. Even puberty, with all its hormonal changes, can put your child more at risk. Their best defense against any dental disease–gum disease and tooth decay included–is to take care of their teeth at home and visit the dentist on a regular basis.

Myth #5: Everyone With Diabetes Has Gum Disease

If you have diabetes, developing gum disease is not inevitable, although you are certainly at a higher risk. Now more than ever you’ll need a good relationship with and frequent visits to your dentist. A rigorous oral hygiene regimen as well as frequent hygiene visits can help stave off the onset of gum disease. Proper blood glucose control can also help you lower your risk.

Gum Disease Myths… Busted!

Now that you know more about gum disease, keep up the good work avoiding it! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

As always, thank you for supporting our practice.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Sippy Cups And Your Child’s Oral Health

AS YOUR CHILD GRADUATES from using a bottle to enjoy their milk, it’s important to remember their oral health as you decide what step to take next.

Sippy Cups Are Only A Stepping Stone

Sippy cups were designed to be a transitional step from bottle drinking to drinking from a regular cup. Despite this, many children end up drinking from sippy cups for months or even years until they are encouraged to begin using a regular cup. Although sippy cups prevent unwanted spills that may arise as they’re transitioning from a bottle, prolonged use can lead to a host of problems for their growing smile.

Prolonged Sippy Cup Use Leads To Cavities

Drinking from a sippy cup for long periods of time has similar effects to putting your baby to bed with a bottle. The sugars in both milk and juice combine with bacteria to create enamel-eroding bacteria. When babies fall asleep with bottles, the fluid pools around their teeth and slowly erodes their enamel throughout the night—leading to painful tooth decay (also known as caries).

Drinking from a sippy cup all day has a similar effect. When a child drinks from a sippy cup, they immerse their top six teeth. Depending on what’s in their cup, they could be constantly covering those top teeth with sugar. Dental caries may soon follow, which can result in uncomfortable swelling and infection, and even triple their likelihood of developing cavities in their adult teeth.

Keep These Tips In Mind

We understand how convenient sippy cups can be during the early stages of your child’s development, but we’d encourage you to use them as a temporary step on the way to using a regular cup. Some children quickly learn how to manage a regular cup and skip the use of a sippy cup altogether.

If your child does need the help of a sippy cup when transitioning from a bottle, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t allow your child to use their sippy cup throughout the day. Reserve this for snacks and mealtime.
  • If they want to drink sugary beverages, encourage them to use a straw. This ensures the sugary liquid misses the teeth as they’re drinking.
  • Visit your child’s dentist early and often. They should have their first dental appointment by the time they get their first tooth or reach the age of one.

We Love Helping Your Child’s Growing Smile!

We know parents have a lot of questions about their little ones’ oral and overall health. If you have questions about transition your infant from a bottle or have other questions about their oral health, please let us know! We’re committed to helping provide all of the information you need during this important period of their life.

Thank you for being a part of our practice family!

Top image by Flickr user Gordon used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Some Of History’s Fun And Bizarre Dental Stories

HISTORY IS FULL of outrageous tales about teeth! How many of these dental facts have you heard before?

The Dental Woes That Won the Battle Of Yorktown?

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington wrote a letter to his dentist requesting some dental cleaning tools to be sent to New York, noting that the American forces wouldn’t be in Philadelphia any time soon. The correspondence was intercepted by the British, making them think that Washington would not move his army to Yorktown. When the Americans attacked Yorktown anyway, the British were caught unawares and the battle was ultimately won.

Check out the video below to learn more about George Washington’s teeth and dentures!

The Power Of A Tooth

In Sri Lanka, the Temple of the Tooth is home to Buddha’s left canine. After Buddha’s death, this tooth played a major role in politics–whoever was in possession of the tooth had the right to rule the country. The tooth was passed down from monarch to monarch for generations as a symbol of power and authority to govern. Talk about strong teeth!

Cotton Candy And A Good Laugh

Some dentists throughout history put their names on the map as inventors. William Morrison may have been a dentist, but he is best known for developing the cotton candy machine! We think it was his history as a dentist that inspired him to first call cotton candy “fairy floss.”

Another dentist named Horace Wells saw a public demonstration of the effects of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and recognized its medical possibilities. He asked a colleague to pull one of his teeth out while he was under the influence of laughing gas and said he didn’t feel a thing, effectively introducing general anesthesia to dentistry. Now that’s dedication!

The $31,000 Tooth

After getting a tooth extracted, John Lennon gave it to his housekeeper whose daughter was a huge Beatles fan. The tooth stayed in the family for over 40 years until it was sold at an auction for approximately 31,000 dollars!

Sir, You Have Spinach In Your Teeth…

The famous frontman for the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, added some flare to his smile by putting an emerald chip in one of his teeth. Unfortunately, most people thought it was a piece of spinach. He changed it to a ruby but got tired of people telling him it was a drop of blood. He finally settled on a diamond instead.

Floss Your Way To Freedom?

In 1994, an inmate escaped from a West Virginia prison by braiding dental floss into a rope and scaling the prison wall! We recommend just using floss to clean out those hard-to-reach spaces between your teeth.

Getting Into Character

Some actors are really devoted to their craft! For his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Johnny Depp had gold caps put on his teeth. He wore them until after the filming of the third film!

In the comedy “The Hangover,” Ed Helms’ character loses a tooth after getting punched by the boxing legend, Mike Tyson. Well, guess what? His toothless grin is real! When Helms’ permanent tooth never grew in, he decided to get a dental implant to improve the appearance of his smile. For the film, he had his implant taken out so the tooth loss would be authentic!

Know Any More Interesting Stories?

There are plenty of other crazy dental facts and tales out there. Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Thank you for being our valued patients and friends.

Top image by Flickr user Thomas Tivoli used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.