Does Chewing Your Food Longer Help Prevent Gum Disease?

Take Your Time to Thoroughly Chew Your Meals

does chewing food longer help prevent diseases

Learning how to chew food is one of the very first things we learn how to do as it is intended to help us break down food to avoid choking and aid digestion. As a child, you’ve probably been told to chew your food properly or close your mouth while eating. Doctors and dentists alike often urge patients to take time to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing, because it can help with both dental and general health. But did you know that chewing your food longer may even help prevent gum disease by releasing specific enzymes?

The Importance of Thoroughly Chewing

Chewing your food is something our brains seem to do without much thought. Some meals require more effort to effectively bite through your food, while others – like small bites – can be tiny enough to pop in your mouth whole. In any case, chewing your food properly is vital for many reasons, aside from helping you keep from gagging or choking.

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Here are some of the most important reasons why you should never rush through a meal, and always take your time chewing – dentists recommend at least 32 times before swallowing.

1. You Can Absorb More Nutrients

Aside from tasting great, we eat food because it provides us with some essential nutrients our bodies require. When you swallow large chunks of food, it diminishes the number of minerals you receive. When you break down large particles of food into smaller, bite-sized pieces, your intestines can digest more of it, thus gaining more nutrients as it passes through.

2. It Helps Balance Your Weight

Those who rush through meals may be more inclined to gain weight than people who carefully chew their food. The idea is that taking the time to chew thoroughly can help it take longer to finish a meal, which can help you feel full at the end of a meal – aiding in portion control and possibly assisting with weight loss!

Generally, it takes your brain 20 minutes to send the signal to your stomach telling it that you are full, which prompts you to stop eating. People who finish a meal in, say, 10 minutes, might not feel full and go back for seconds, doubling their calorie consumption.

3. Your Food Gets More Exposure to Your Saliva

Did you know that saliva is chock full of digestive enzymes? As you chew, your food is exposed to these enzymes, which help to break down your food and making digestion more comfortable for you (and your small intestine). So naturally, the longer you chew, the longer you expose your food to your saliva – which may help to alleviate that bloated feeling you get after a nice meal.

4. It Helps Promote Healthy Teeth

Your jawbone, which is the cluster of muscle and bones that you use when you chew, gets a great workout every time you eat, which helps keep it strong and healthy. Similar to other muscles in the body, such as your abs or biceps, constant use can help to keep your joints supple and ward off issues, such as TMJ.

5. You Can Savor the Taste

While this one doesn’t have to do with your overall health, it can be one of the best reasons to slow down during meal time. When you rush through your bites, it may feel like you get to enjoy the full flavor more – since you are taking bites more often – but you’re not able to truly let the various flavors develop on your tastebuds. Chewing your food longer actually allows you to savor it and genuinely enjoy the complexity of each bite.

The Correlation Between Chewing and Tooth Disease

Adding to the list of reasons why you should always properly masticate your food is the results of a recent study surrounding T helper 17 cells (Th17), which are an integral part of the adaptive immune system. These cells work as powerful defensive tools for your body, targeting harmful pathogens while leaving beneficial bacteria alone.

The University of Manchester researches conducted a study which led them to discover that the Th17 cells in the mouth are produced solely by chewing, and their production in your body can help to fight off harmful germs in the mouth that can cause disease, like gingivitis or periodontitis. The only downside is that too much mastication can actually produce the opposite effect, and lead to more lasting damage in the long run. This is why the number 32 is often recommended by professionals (softer foods may only require 15 or 20) to help ensure proper attention is given to each bite of food that passes through your mouth.

Get Comprehensive Help To Prevent Gum Disease

At Acosta Dental Arts, PA, we provide our patients with a Cosmetic Smile Assessment, which helps us to understand your dental health better and tailor a plan that’s best for you. We offer a wide range of cosmetic and restorative treatments for the whole family, including bi-annual teeth cleanings and check-ups. We help patients understand the importance of brushing regularly, chewing thoroughly, and following a proper diet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Acosta!

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