Did you know that chewing gum has been around since prehistoric times? In fact the first rudimentary form of chewing gum was made from tree sap from the birch bark tree. The ancient Greeks chewed the resin from the mastic tree to help clean their teeth and freshen their breath. Pretty clever when you consider that mastic gum has antiseptic properties which the Greeks believed would help contribute to good oral health. Even the Mayans liked chewy treats and the boiled sap from the sapodilla tree, called “cha” was given to children to chew as on special occasions. It wasn’t until the 1800s that a forward thinking entrepreneur named John Curtis introduced chewing gum made from Spruce sap to the American public with his sticks of gum aptly named “Maine Pure Spruce Gum”
Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Oral Health?
Today, gum comes in many different forms and varies greatly in shape, size and flavor, but did you know that some types of gum actually clean your teeth as you chew them? When it comes to choosing gum, it’s the type of gum that can make a huge difference to your oral health. Chewing gum that contains sugar for example, can increase the chance of you or your child developing cavities, but research shows that chewing sugar-free gum especially sugar-free gum that is sweetened with xylitol can actually help protect your teeth from cavity causing bacteria.
Best Sugar Free Chewing Gum for Teeth
Research shows that chewing sugar-free gum after snacks and meals can help to neutralize the acids released by the naturally occurring bacteria found in your child’s mouth. In fact chewing gum has been proven to stimulate the production of saliva which can neutralize decay causing acids known to contribute to the buildup of plaque within 20 minutes of gum chewing. Plaque damages the enamel of the teeth, making the surface susceptible to cavities. The artificial sweetener contained in a stick of gum combined with the chewing motion can release as much as ten times the normal amount of saliva, which not only neutralizes the acids found in your child’s mouth, it also washes away tiny particles of food, which helps to keep their teeth clean and free of decay causing bacteria.
Xylitol & Dental Caries
Naturally occurring oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, is one of the primary sources of cavity causing oral bacteria. Sugar-free gum that is sweetened with xylitol has been proven to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria including Streptococcus mutans. How? Xylitol stops the bacteria from adhering to the surface of the tooth, in essence disabling the cavity-causing process. Further studies indicate that the continued use of xylitol can cause the bacteria in the mouth to change by allowing less decay-causing bacteria to survive on the surface of the teeth.
Oral Hygiene Routine
For the majority of children and their parents, chewing sugar-free gum can be beneficial especially in situations where tooth brushing and flossing are impractical. However chewing gum should never be used as a substitute for good oral hygiene practices. Your Smile Reef pediatric dentist recommends a dental health plan which consists of brushing and flossing twice a day combined with regular dental checkups for the continued health of your child’s teeth and gums.
One of the most important things you can do for the health and well being of your child is to teach them good dental hygiene practices. Providing your child with excellent dental care can help protect their teeth for many years. Your baby has 20 primary teeth that are encased in his or her jaw at birth. These baby teeth typically begin to emerge from the gums at around six months of age. Your baby’s teeth keep space in the jaw for the adult teeth to develop and emerge.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Did you know that your child’s baby teeth are at risk for decay almost as soon as they break through the gums? Tooth decay in infants is often known as baby bottle tooth decay. It normally occurs in the upper front teeth, but can affect other teeth as well. Surprisingly, some infants and toddlers may experience decay that is so severe that the teeth need to be removed by your dental professional.
Dental Caries AKA Tooth Decay Prevention
The great news is that tooth decay can be prevented. The knowledgeable dentists and dental professionals at Smile Reef are often asked this question by parents and caregivers: “What is the best way to care for my child’s new teeth?” The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends taking your child to the dentist within six months of the first tooth appearing, but no later than his or her first birthday.
Smile Reef offer some tips you can begin at home to ensure your child is receiving the best possible start to a life of healthy dental habits!
• You can start cleaning your baby’s mouth even before the teeth emerge. In fact you can begin a few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist pad or washcloth. As soon as your baby’s teeth begin to appear, it is possible for decay to occur. As a general rule, your baby’s four front teeth will push through the gums at approximately six months of age; however it is not uncommon for a baby to reach 12 to 14 months of age before the first four teeth emerge.
• For children aged three years or younger, begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt through the gums, using toothpaste that contains fluoride in an amount that is about the size of a grain of rice. The experts at Smile Reef recommend brushing twice per day, morning and night unless we advise you of a specific plan for your child.
• For children that are aged between three to six years of age, use a pea sized amount of a fluoride based toothpaste and brush teeth twice per day morning and night as directed by your Smile Reef professional. Always supervise your child’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
• Generally speaking, you should brush your child’s teeth twice daily until you are comfortable that your child can brush his or her teeth on their own. Teach your child to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride. As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin to floss the teeth on a daily basis.
Pediatric Dental Care Helping to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay & Cavities in Baby Teeth in Las Vegas NV
For more information about caring for your infant or toddlers new teeth, contact the experts at Smile Reef today and set up a dental exam to begin the process of teaching your child healthy dental habits. A customized Smile Reef brushing and flossing regime will last a lifetime and ensure your child has a beautiful glowing smile he or she can be proud of!