Chewing is probably not something we think about much, more likely something we take for granted most of our lives unlike eating, which holds a huge significance.
Our attention is constantly consumed (forgive the pun) with matters relating to food.
- How much we eat, in terms of how we look. Do we eat too much or too little?
- Where we eat and who with, as a meal can be such a social event, whether entertaining friends at home or eating out.
- Are we getting the whole ‘foody’ experience?
- With more than ever TV shows inspiring us and turning meal preparation into a major pastime.
However chewing does start to matter when there’s a problem such as pain, lost or broken teeth or missing teeth. Good job you’ve got prompt access to our dental service to put things right.
But there are a few more things about chewing we’d like to share.
Chewing can protect you against infection?
Did you know, according to a recent study, the act of chewing can stimulate the release of cells in the mouth, called Th17 cells.
These cells form part of the adaptive immune system and use specific antigens to defend against potentially harmful pathogens. They are produced through the presence of friendly bacteria.
The mechanical force involved in mastication (chewing) causes abrasion to the lining of the mouth, stimulating the release of Th17 cells. The degree of chewing required, determines how much abrasion occurs. Hence hard food material would have a greater effect and cell release than soft foods.
The down side is too many Th17 cells can increase the risk of gum disease (periodontitis).
And then there’s chewing gum, (sugar-free of course).
According to the World Health Organisation, oral disease costs the world economy billions every year and yet tooth decay is one of the most preventable oral diseases!
A new study, undertaken by Wrigley’s and the Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth determined that chewing just one additional piece of sugar-free gum each day could save billions world wide as a preventive measure for tooth decay.
How chewing sugar-free gum helps.
It increases the production of saliva, which helps to wash away food particles and restore optimum pH levels in the mouth, reducing the risks from acid attacking our teeth and causing enamel erosion.
Everything in moderation!
A word of warning from one of our resident Dentists, to follow the Oral Health foundations’ advise on frequency of chewing gum.
Our teeth are only designed to last one lifetime and we are all living longer and longer, excessive chewing could exacerbate the mechanical wearing down of the biting surface of teeth, from tooth to tooth contact.
Excessive chewing could also cause jaw muscle imbalance, particularly if you have a preference to chewing on one side more than the other and could lead to temporo-mandibular joint disorders.
So chewing is essential, for preparing food as it enters our digestive tract, for stimulating saliva to help keep our mouths healthy and for boosting our immune system. The important thing, like any mechanical system, is that it remains well maintained for optimum, trouble free function.
Regular visits to see your Dental team will keep your teeth chewing at their best.
Call us if you need advice.