Chewing gum can help improve oral health, latest research suggests.
A team of researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that chewing of gum trapped bacteria. They expected that regular use of chewing gum can help lower bacterial load in oral cavity.
"Assuming a volume of saliva of around 1ml in the oral cavity, our results indicate that chewing of one piece of gum removes around 10% of the oral microbial load in saliva," the authors wrote.
As part of the study, five people - one man and four women - aged between 27 and 56, from the department of biomedical engineering were asked to chew two types of spearmint chewing gum once in a day for different durations – 0.5, 1, 3, 5 and 10 minutes. The gum was then dipped in 10ml sterile water and placed in Teflon mold.
Scanning-electron-microscopy was used to view the bacteria trapped inside the gums. Different methods were used to calculate the total number of bacteria trapped in the gums.
Researchers also collected saliva and biofilm samples from the participants.
They found that the total number of bacteria thus trapped increased with an increase in the chewing time.
Researchers said that chewing gum can also help maintain oral health as brushing or flossing.
"Chewing however, does not necessarily remove bacteria from the same sites of the dentition as does brushing or flossing, therefore its results may be noticeable on a more long-term than those of brushing or flossing," they wrote.
According to the American Dental Association, chewing gum after meal can help remove acids responsible for tooth decay.
However, according to them, chewing gum cannot replace brushing or flossing.
Chewing Gum-More Facts
Chewing gums have been popular among humans from quite a long time. Greek people used to chew resin obtained from mastic tree called mastiche, according to Chemical and Engineering News (C&N). Chewing gum got its name from a Greek word mastichan, which means "to chew."
Currently, synthetic materials (elastomers, resins, waxes) have replaced the tree saps. Companies also use artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours and softeners to make their product different and more appealing to the consumers.
Chewing gum is not completely free from criticisms. The habit has been linked to muscle imbalance, headaches, gastro-intestinal problems and tooth decay. Data also shows that lanolin used to make chewing gum is obtained from sheep wool, Mercola.com reported.