Tag Archives: Tooth Decay

Chewing Sugar-Free Gum Can Prevent A Dental Visit by San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

You have probably heard your dentist tell you many times to avoid eating candy and gum, so you may be surprised to know that chewing sugar-free gum can actually be beneficial. Instead of causing cavities the way sugar-filled gum does, sugar-free gum actually aids in the prevention of cavity formation. Here’s what you need to know:

What are the risks of chewing gum?

Before we discuss the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum, it’s important to talk about some of the risks involved with chewing sugary gum. Gum that contains sugar can lead to serious oral health problems. The sugar coats your teeth and gradually damages the enamel, potentially leading to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Although this is not the case with sugar-free gum, excessive gum chewing  of any kind of gum can increase the risk of developing temporomandibular disorder (TMD), irritable bowel syndrome, or tension headaches. Even when chewing sugar-free gum, it’s a good idea to keep gum chewing limited to the recommended 20 minutes or less at a time.

What is sugar-free gum?

Unlike regular gum, which is sweetened with sugar, sugar-free gum uses artificial sugar or sugar alcohols such as aspartame, sucralose, stevia, and xylitol.  When you chew sugary gum, the sugar dissolves into your saliva and gets absorbed by existing plaque, allowing the bacteria within to reproduce, multiply, and eventually cause cavities. Sugar substitutes, on the other hand, not only contain about half the calories of regular sugar, but they are also non cariogenic, which means they are metabolized slowly or not at all by cavity-causing plaque bacteria. 

How does sugar-free gum benefit oral health?

Chewing sugar-free gum after meals is a great addition to your daily oral health routine. The act of chewing stimulates ten times the normal rate of saliva flow, helping to rinse away food particles that would otherwise get stuck and potentially lead to plaque and cavities. Saliva flow also helps neutralize the acids that are released by food and existing plaque, which is harmful to the enamel on your teeth.

Additionally, sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol in particular has the added benefit of inhibiting the growth of oral bacteria that causes cavities. Xylitol blocks the bacteria’s ability to adhere to the tooth surface. Chewing xylitol-sweetened gum over a long period of time actually changes the bacteria in your mouth so fewer types can survive on the enamel.

Do dentists recommend chewing sugar-free gum?

Many sugar-free gums on the market bear a seal of approval from the American Dental Association (ADA), which means the product meets the ADA’s criteria for effectiveness and safety. Chewing sugar-free gum for about 20 minutes after you eat or drink can produce many oral health benefits, but it’s important to note that chewing sugar-free gum is not a substitute for daily brushing and flossing, which are still crucial for long-term oral health.

Can chewing sugar-free gum prevent a dental visit?

Visiting a dentist twice a year for an exam and professional cleaning is still important as part of your regular oral health routine. However, chewing sugar-free gum can help prevent more frequent visits that are necessary to fill cavities or treat gum disease. By maintaining a good oral health routine that includes daily brushing and flossing, along with chewing sugar-free gum after meals, you will likely only have to see the dentist twice a year for a checkup, saving you time and money in the long run.

Advanced dental care at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

If you want to introduce sugar-free gum into your daily oral health routine but you would like to address existing dental problems first, San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry can help. We offer a wide range of periodontal services and gum disease treatments, and our compassionate staff is committed to ensuring your comfort during procedures. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call us at (619) 543-0905.

Genes for Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Healthy teeth and gums are important for maintaining your overall health, and it all begins with good oral hygiene habits. But if you’re genetically predisposed to tooth decay or gum disease, you have a higher risk of developing oral health problems, regardless of how well you brush and floss. Even if you have the genetic markers for periodontal disease, though, there are still things you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy and prevent existing conditions from getting worse.

A Genetic Predisposition to Tooth Decay

When bacteria collects on your teeth, it forms a sticky film called plaque, which generates acid that can break down your tooth enamel. This damage leads to cavities. If left untreated, cavities can grow to affect deeper layers of your teeth and gums.

Cavities often develop as a result of poor oral hygiene, but there are people who are more susceptible to tooth decay because of the way their bodies respond to bacteria. In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, researchers evaluated over 300 saliva samples and found that people with a G-20A variant of the beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) gene had a significantly higher rate of decayed teeth, fillings, and missing teeth. Scientists theorize that people with this variation of DEFB1 have a harder time fighting off plaque-causing bacteria that colonize on the teeth and form cavities.

Chronic and Aggressive Periodontal Disease Runs in Families

According to the European Federation of Periodontology, genetics is also a risk factor for developing both chronic periodontitis and aggressive periodontitis. Chronic periodontal disease is characterized by persistent inflammation of the gum tissue, usually in older adults.  Aggressive periodontal disease involves rapid deterioration of the bone around the teeth, usually at a relatively young age.

While research is ongoing to determine the exact genetic basis of gum disease, scientists have identified 38 genes associated with the increased risk of developing periodontitis. One in particular, the FAM5C gene, has been linked to aggressive periodontal disease. FAM5C has also been implicated in cardiovascular disease; the common factor connecting both conditions may be general inflammation in the body.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums

If you suspect you may be genetically predisposed to gum disease, genetic tests are available to determine your potential risk. Learning this information can help to identify early intervention strategies that will keep your teeth and gums healthy for years to come. Even if you are susceptible to oral health problems, there are some things you can do to prevent serious complications. For example:

1. Always Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing are important for everyone, but they’re particularly crucial for those with elevated risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

2. Visit Your Dentist for Regular Cleanings and Check-ups

Staying on top of your dental exams can help your care providers discover and diagnose potential problems before they get out of control.

3. Quit Smoking

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for the development and progression of periodontitis

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Research has linked obesity to periodontal disease, and a diet lacking in nutrients can make it hard for your immune system to fight off the bacteria that causes both tooth decay and gum infection.

5. Get a Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation

A periodontist who specializes in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease can examine your teeth, gums, and bone structure to pinpoint areas of concern and help you establish an appropriate oral care routine.

Treat & Prevent Gum Disease at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

If You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Gum Disease, San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry Can Give You the Treatment You Need to Improve Your Oral Health. We Treat All Periodontal Disease Stages, From the Early Phases of Gingivitis to Advanced Periodontitis. With Comprehensive Treatment and Diligent Oral Hygiene Habits, Dr. Kwok Can Help You Recover From Gum Disease and Maintain Great Dental Health for Years to Come.
To Schedule a Consultation With Dr. Kwok, Call Our Office at (619) 543-0905.