Chew on This! [BLOG]

Posted: November 15, 2019

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My mom told me to chew my food 32 times before swallowing, but I never thought to ask why.  It turn out that there’s a good reason behind it and it’s a little poetic that we have 32 teeth to match the 32 chews.  What it comes down to is the most important part of digestion actually starts in the mouth!

As you would imagine, it is easier to chew watermelon that it is a ribeye, so there will be some differences in the number of chews based on what you are eating.  Regardless, the process of chewing is essential to getting the proper nutrition from your food and protecting the health of your gut and body!  Chewing obviously breaks down the big bites into little ones you can swallow, but more importantly it also stimulates the release of enzymes that start to break down your food into the nutrition your body needs.  One of the key things we check for in your regular exams at Aesthetic Dentistry of Georgetown is that your teeth can gear properly to be able to efficiently chew to help get the nutrition you need.

After chewing your food properly, the smaller mashed up pieces combined with enzymes and the lubrication your saliva provides, you can easily move your food along to the next stop; your stomach.  Assuming the first few steps were done appropriately, the acids in your stomach can pick up the process and break your food down into something that can pass through the small intestine where the nutrition can be picked up and carried throughout your body.  As you know from your regular hygiene visits, we aren’t just looking for whether or not you floss.  In fact, in the six screenings we do at your recall visits one of the key things we screen for is the quality and quantity of your saliva.  We know that if both aren’t there, you are more likely to have GI problems and more dental needs.

Like mom said, make sure you chew your food at least 32 times before you swallow it!  Of course, how well your teeth chew is different for everyone.  Some people have perfectly shaped teeth with the bumps and grooves still on them so they can easily chew their food correctly and efficiently.  On the other hand, some have a long history of grinding and their teeth have been worn down flat and can no longer chew like they should.  Sill others have lost some teeth and what teeth are left are forced to work harder than they should.  This increases the risk for further chipping and fractures and additional tooth loss.  There is an increase in GI issues and medication for people with poorer dental health, so the impact of wear and tooth loss can be dramatic!  As you can see in the table, wear is a pretty common issue, so there’s a good chance you aren’t able to chew like you should!

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Fortunately, at Aesthetic Dentistry of Georgetown, we have been rebuilding and protecting people’s teeth and mouths and health for more than 15 years.  By protecting the proper function of teeth, people can live longer and healthier lives.  For those who have already worn their teeth down flat, we help to rebuild the proper function so they can chew their food efficiently.  Also, for people who have lost some or all of their teeth, we can help rebuild the support under them so that with implants or bridges, people can enjoy function and health as if they had always had perfect teeth!

If you or someone in your family has a history of grinding or tooth loss or has issues with reflux or indigestion, the key to enjoying dinner again may be to chew your food 32 times before you swallow.  As you might guess, they key to being able to do that may well be a visit to Aesthetic Dentistry of Georgetown.