If you have sensitive teeth, the very last thing you may want to do is chew gum. Sensitive tooth suffers everywhere are likely to wince in anticipation of that unpleasant, electric jolt that can shoot through the mouth when sweet hits tooth surfaces, particularly root surfaces. Ironically, instead of aggravating sensitive teeth, the right chewing gum actually has the potential to decrease sensitivity.
The difference between chewing gum that causes agony and chewing gum that improves overall mouth health lies in the sweetener used in the gum. Veteran sensitivity sufferers are all too familiar with the real pain hinted at in the expression “so sweet it makes my teeth hurt.” Sugar—and sugar filled chewing gum—can aggravate sensitivity. Xylitol sweetened chewing gum, on the other hand, can help treat the underlying conditions that cause tooth sensitivity, thus helping eliminate sensitivity pain by improving overall oral health.
Why So Sensitive?
At the heart of it, tooth sensitivity happens when the inner layer of the tooth, the dentin, loses its protective covering and is exposed to extreme temperatures or acidic conditions. Damage to the enamel layer of the tooth, generally caused by a loss of minerals that make up the enamel, exposes what it is meant to protect.
When someone eats frequently or drinks non-water beverages throughout the day, if they do not remove plaque efficiently through proper oral care and dental visits, the environment of the mouth becomes acidic. The natural pH balancing effects of saliva are not given time to work properly. Cavity causing bacteria in the mouth thrive in acidic conditions, taking over and rapidly reproducing and making more acid. The acid in the mouth has a chance to dissolve minerals out of the enamel surface, and sensitive spots are born.
In order to treat sensitivity, sometimes products that contain numbing or desensitizing agents are used. The difficulty with treating sensitivity this way is that it addresses the symptoms, but not the cause. Long term success in treating sensitivity should attempt to address the bacterial overgrowth, the pH imbalance, and the mineral loss from the enamel. This is where xylitol (and xylitol gum) can be useful tools in the fight against sensitivity.
Xylitol kills bacteria with kindness. It is sweet, and the bacteria that grow in the mouth eat it to use as fuel to grow. However, unlike regular sugar, the bacteria cannot use xylitol to grow or reproduce. So, the bacteria eat and starve to death when xylitol gum is chewed. Study data indicates that chewing xylitol gum multiple times a day reduces harmful bacteria levels in the saliva. Less bacteria produce less acid, helping give your saliva a fighting chance, which leads to…
When you eat, the pH levels in your mouth drop and the acid levels in your mouth rise. Saliva normally corrects the imbalance and retains the minerals that acid can dissolve out of the tooth enamel. If acid levels remain high, those minerals never get a chance to redeposit on the teeth. Chewing xylitol gum can stimulate saliva flow, helping correct pH levels and preserve enamel health, preventing…
Saliva retains minerals that have dissolved out of the tooth enamel while it can. Once xylitol gum has helped raise the oral pH, those dissolved minerals have the opportunity to redeposit in the enamel surface. Restoring enamel to full strength is vital when treating the root causes of sensitivity. Remineralized enamel covers the tooth properly, protecting the inner structures of the tooth from temperature shock and from acid discomfort.
Xylitol gum can be a valuable asset in the fight against tooth sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth, you don’t have to fear gum chewing, you just have to make smart choices about your gum.