Teeth: we all have them, but we forget how important they are to our lives. We tell our kids to make sure to brush, but things get so busy we might sometimes forget to care for our own. It turns out there’s a lot of research showing that your oral health—how healthy your mouth is—can affect your overall health.
What’s a busy mom to do when it’s all we can do to keep the kids alive and thriving, let alone change out of our stained pajamas (don’t even talk to me about makeup)?
It may sound weird but chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to take care of your teeth, which then helps your overall health. Research has found that people who regularly chew sugar-free gum develop 28% fewer cavities compared to those who don’t.
Preventing cavities isn’t the only reason to chew gum though.
Oral health matters at every stage of motherhood
Chewing sugar-free gum can help in your earliest days of mommyhood.
According to Dr. Miller and Dr. Sharma, when you’re pregnant, higher hormone levels make your gums more vulnerable to bacteria and inflammation that can migrate via blood to the fetus. You’re also more vulnerable to gum disease. Sadly, there are even some links between gum disease and preemie births, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes.
Sugar-free gum helps by stimulating your saliva production to 10-12 times its normal amount, making your saliva more alkaline, neutralizing acid and soothing inflammation.
Few people realize our mouth is home to the oral microbiome, made of more than 700 microbes. Our mouth is in constant contact with our gut microbiome and this means that the steps you take to maintain your oral health can have direct impacts on your digestive health, immune health, allergies, and even your metabolism.
There’s more info at the World Oral Health Day website (which is March 20, by the way).
Chewing gum boosts your body’s natural defenses
Here’s another weird fact: Saliva is the hidden hero of oral health and the body’s natural defense system for mouth and teeth. It has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, which is why the saliva increase from chewing sugar-free gum is such a natural health benefit.
Saliva gets rid of food particles trapped on and around teeth and has an antimicrobial and cleansing effect, degrading bacterial cell walls and inhibiting bacteria growth. Its important minerals, like calcium and phosphate ions, also reinforce tooth enamel.
Chewing gum restores your mouth pH
If you’re like me, snack time for the kids is also snack time for mom.
But most people don’t know that every time you eat or drink something, your mouth pH becomes acidic, allowing bad bacteria to thrive. When we eat, the sugar and starches in our snacks feed tooth bacteria, eroding tooth enamel and dentine and causing tooth decay.
So try to throw a pack of chewing gum in the diaper bag or your purse to pop after having a snack. Increased saliva flow within the mouth can neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is eaten. Saliva helps return your mouth to a neutral pH level and rebuild the protective enamel of teeth, a process called remineralization.
Chewing gum helps with mask breath
It also refreshes your mouth and breath, which we all need after all this mask wearing from COVID-19!
Next time you’re at the grocery store or making an online order, be sure to grab some sugar-free chewing gum. It’s an affordable and easy step you can take today to take care of yourself.
And we all need that, momma!