Gum: Damage or dental benefit?

Gum: Damage or dental benefit?

Currently, sugar-free chewing gum or chewing gum can be your great ally to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Several studies support the use of sugar-free chewing gum as a preventive method for tooth decay and other oral lesions, and may have multiple benefits in the dental field.

The use of chewing gum is socially accepted, economical, practical and available to everyone, and has no significant side effects. In addition, diabetics can apply this technique, since the product does not contain sugar.

Chewing gum should be chewed several times a day, preferably after meals, for approximately 20 min. It is not recommended in children under 7 years of age, as well as constant supervision of their parents or representatives.

A series of microorganisms are found in the mouth, which are considered normal when their quantity and toxicity are incapable of causing tissue damage. Therefore, oral health is given by the balance in which bacteria interact with the host. The breakdown of this balance translates into oral disorders and conditions. The most frequent injuries are: gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis), tooth decay and bad breath (halitosis).

This balance is broken by several factors, but usually due to incorrect or absent oral hygiene techniques, systemic diseases, stress or certain conditions that weaken the person’s immune system.

The human being has certain defense mechanisms against microorganisms, specifically saliva and crevicular fluid stand out in the mouth. These liquids, allow the mechanical removal of food debris and dental plaque, regulate the pH of the mouth, and also have chemical elements that control or eliminate the action of germs on oral tissues.

The continuous chewing of chewing gum stimulates saliva, obtaining beneficial results for the body. Likewise, there are sweeteners contained in chewing gum, such as xylitol, which prevents the growth of certain bacteria (Streptocuccus Mutans) involved in the process of initiation and development of tooth decay. In fact, there are investigations that prove the remission of caries lesions in the initial stage, thanks to a process of dental remineralization given by stimulated saliva.

However, it is important to consider the side or adverse effects that the patient could present due to the constant use of chewing gum. Continuous chewing of chewing gums can cause accidental injuries to the tongue and the oral mucosa. Likewise, inadvertent intake of chewing gum could also occur, especially in children and adolescents. On the other hand, there are authors who point out that the constant chewing of chewing gums could stimulate the production of gastric acids and encourage reflux problems.

Although it could be considered as an effective, economical and easily accessible procedure for patients, the use of chewing gum is only an “adjuvant” in dental therapy, that is, it cannot replace traditional oral hygiene methods at any time. , such as tooth brushing, flossing and the use of rinses or mouthwashes. However, it represents a practical tool that could contribute to maintaining oral health. However, more studies and research are needed in this regard. In addition, the opinion of the attending physician or dentist is essential before carrying out this type of practice.

CURIOSITIES:

  • Certain indigenous groups chewed the resins of the jungle trees to stimulate saliva as part of their oral hygiene routine
    The consumption of chewing gum sweetened with xylitol does not change the diet nutritionally, since it does not generate fat, protein or sugar.
  • Chewing gum can stimulate salivation so that approximately ¼ liter is secreted in 20 minutes.
  • Chewing gum can temporarily combat bad breath (halitosis) and keeps a fresh sensation in the mouth.
  • There are organic chewing gums, which apart from being a completely natural product is biodegradable.
  • Chewing gum has been used in multiple treatments; namely, therapies to stop smoking, appetite control and anxiety control.
  • Recently, chewing gum and lack of attention on the part of adolescents have been linked, however there are no conclusive reports or studies in this regard.

Author: Dr. Alejandro Amaíz

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