Mints, candies, and chewing gum are all potentially problematic substances for your smile. This article from our Elmhurst dentists is all about why these treats can be harmful, and what you can do about it. Keep reading to learn more…
Be Aware of Sugar Content
The first thing to do before you even buy mints, gums, or hard candies is to check the ingredient labels for sugar content. Keep in mind that the harmful oral bacteria in your mouth use sugar for fuel, so the last thing that you want to do is to coat your mouth in sugar all day long. In fact, if you are using gums or mints to freshen your breath, it is actually counterproductive to use breath fresheners with sugars; as you mask unpleasant odors, the very oral bacteria that create bad breath will be strengthened.
Minimize How Long They Stick Around
It is also important to keep in mind that oral bacteria only remain active, and feeding on the sugars in your mouth, for about 30 minutes after you finish eating or drinking. As such, it benefits you to indulge in sugary treats during specific, time-limited sittings, rather than continuously throughout the day. Pick a specific time to eat or drink sugars, and then make sure to floss and/or rinse your smile directly after exposing your smile to sugary or acidic substances.
It is not a good idea to chew on mints or hard candies, as doing so can create small cracks or chips in your dental enamel. While these cracks may initially be invisible to the naked eye, they can collect oral bacteria as well as dental discoloration. As time goes on, the damage on your teeth will become more severe, and oral bacteria will be able to use cracks as superhighways into the more vulnerable dental layers—the dentin and the dental pulp.
When chewing gum, stay alert for any signs that you are changing how you bite, or that your temporomandibular joints are irritated. If you begin to experience symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, like your jaw “locking” in place, talk to your dentist about scheduling a consultation.
We hope that you now have a better idea of how you can protect your smile from damage and infections related to candy, gum, and mints. As always, our Elmhurst dentists are here to give you any additional information and guidance that you may need; just give us a call!