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Chewing gum makes a bad bite worse.

Chewing Gum Makes a Bad Bite Worse

"But, Doctor, I chew sugarless gum." This was the immediate response of every patient to my cautioning about chewing gum.

The sugar composition of gum, however, is of minor importance. It is the constant pressure exerted on the teeth that is of major importance. Teeth and their supporting structures were designed to withstand the stresses of chewing for approximately 20 minutes daily - but habitual gum chewers often chew for many hours during the day. The resultant trauma on the jawbone and gum tissue is enormous.

Very few people have a completely normal bite. Many also are missing several teeth, and if they chew gum, the strain on the remaining teeth becomes exaggerated. Replacement teeth - fixed or removable dentures - suffer as a result of gum chewing as well, as do the abutment teeth. Often such appliances lose their retention and become unserviceable.

Most of us are one-sided chewers. The muscles of mastication on the favored side become overdeveloped, and this can lead to symptoms of myofacial pain.

Constant chewing tends to erode the biting surfaces of the teeth, causes amalgam and synthetic porcelain fillings to fracture, and often fractures the teeth in which the restorations were placed. Excessive chewing also can cause inlays to lose their marginal edges, which may lead to recurrent decay.

The typical gum chewer's bite is easily recognized. The lower posterior teeth are depressed, while the upper posterior teeth are elongated. In some cases the lower anterior teeth are 2 to 3 mm. above the lower posteriors. The upper anterior teeth excessively overlap the lower anterior teeth, and have a tendency to drift toward the upper lip. This bite is concomitant with a retrusion of the mandible, which, if uncorrected, leads to a breakdown of the supporting structures of the teeth.

Finally, constant chewing pressure during the formative years will prevent the lower posterior teeth from reaching their normal height.
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Author:Elsohn, Michael
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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