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100 Million Reasons to Chew Gum Daily

Jan 27, 2015

By Dean George

Here’s something to chew on: chewing a single piece of gum for up to 10 minutes can remove 100 million bacteria from your pie hole. That’s 10 percent of the bad bacteria found in saliva so that finding is nothing to spit at - so to speak.

100 million bacteria

But with all good things, there’s a few “sticking” points:

  • Chewing a sugar-based gum can actually feed the bacteria that causes cavities
  • Even healthier chewing gums that use artificial sweeteners lose their adhesiveness after just 30 seconds.
  • Continuously chewing gum can ultimately release some of the absorbed bacteria back into the mouth

The results above are based on studies by a team of researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, all of whom presumably can walk and chew gum at the same time.

In their study published in the journal PLOS ONE, five biomed students chewed two different commercial spearmint gums for spans ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Afterwards the gum was spit into a cup filled with sterile water for analysis.

After the researchers chewed things over, about 100 million bacteria were detected on each piece of chewed up gum, with the number increasing as chewing time increased, despite the gum losing much of its adhesiveness the longer it was chewed.

“Trapped bacteria were clearly visualized in chewed gun using scanning-electron-microscopy,” the researchers wrote.

As previously reported in Dental Wire, chewing gum and candy manufacturers have been focusing on adding active agents like xylitol and sorbitol to help reduce tooth decay, remineralize teeth and reduce plaque and gingivitis. (Come back later this week as Agent Straight-Talk chats with a dentist that has co-founded a candy company that uses xylitol in the manufacturing of a sweet, non-sticky caramel.) 

Both xylitol and sorbitol have been found to combat the formation of biofilm on teeth, while detergents like polyphosphates have been added to some chewing gum to expand its cleaning power.

Chewing gum manufacturers are also borrowing a page from mouthwash companies in adding fluorides to gum to protect teeth against cavities, and microbials like chlorhexidine and herbal extracts for their oral health beneficial properties.


While comparisons have been made about the similar oral health benefits between flossing and chewing gum, the American Dental Association (ADA) will chew out anyone that says that chewing gum could substitute for flossing. The ADA says chewing gum can supplement brushing and flossing, but should not be viewed as a substitute for it.

Likewise, brushing and flossing regularly should not be viewed as a substitute for regular dental visits. To see available plans in your area that can help with the expense of regular dental visits, click here.

Sources: medicaldaily.com, dailymail.co.uk, financialexpress.com, WebMD, British Dental Health Foundation
Photo source: bkrdsn.com


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