Tooth Decay, Chewing Gum, and Mouthwash

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Bacterial Plaque acids or “cavity bugs,” as I call them, are one of the main causes of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. These cavity bugs feed on tiny bits of food left in your mouth after you eat a meal. Cavity bugs basically “poop” out acid that attacks your teeth and dissolves away important minerals on their surface. Over time this will weaken the teeth and lead to decay.

What can I do to Protect my teeth and gums?

The best defense is a good oral hygiene routine. Acids produced by the cavity bugs are most concentrated after eating. Flossing then brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste is most effective. If you can clean your mouth before the acid from those cavity bugs can do it’s damage, your teeth and gums will thank you. Of course, regular dental visits will help too!

Does Chewing Gum Help?

If you can’t get to a sink to floss and brush, you can chew SUGARLESS gum to increase your saliva flow. Your saliva is a natural protector from the plaque acids. This will decrease the acidity in your mouth. Just don’t chew too long. Chewing gum for longer than 20 minutes is not recommended due to possible jaw muscle problems (see Temporomandibular joint disorder or “TMJ”) or excessive wear on your enamel or stress on your gums and bone.

Do Mouthwashes Help?

Yes, most definitely. There are a number of rinses out on the market which I like. The latest I’ve seen is called Listerine* Whitening Restoring. Whitens while remineralizing your teeth. Not for kids. For kids I would use Act* or Flouiguard*. A rinse with a little flouride in it to help neutralze the effects of the acids on theteeth and gums.

How Can I learn More?

There are lots of good resources available on the Web for reading about the effect of Bacterial Plaque Acids on the mouth, the production of plaques, TMJ or how to keep your mouth healthy. I’ve linked to a few generic articles right here in my post. The best way, of course, is just to ask your dentist the next time to get your teeth cleaned. Your dentist will be happy to answer your questions and tell you about what you can do to make sure you keep your smile bright, your breath smelling fresh, and your mouth clean.

You can call us for an appointment at 888-291-4041.


* I have no relationship with the makers of Listerine, ACT or Flouriguard and I was not compensated in any way for mentioning these products. The fact that I mention these products in my blog post does not constitute a paid endorsement. I have simply found them to work in my practice.

One Response to Tooth Decay, Chewing Gum, and Mouthwash
  1. Crest 3D Review
    September 25, 2011 | 10:51 am

    Great post! I found gum and listerine and also Crest 3D toothpaste to be a huge lifesaver.