Is Chewing Gum Good For Your Teeth?

Chewing gum has a history of ups and downs. One moment you’re told not to chew it in class, the next you find out that it boosts cognition and alertness while decreasing appetite. One moment you’re told that it rots teeth like candy, the next you’re told that chewing gum is actually good for your teeth. Having had enough of this flip-flopping, some scientists decided to sink their teeth into studying once and for all whether or not chewing gum is good for dental health. It turns out that yes, it is. But only if you do it right. For their study they rounded up a few volunteers and then simply had them chew gum as they normally would. When they were done, they spat the piece into a cup of sterilised water. The researchers then looked at how much bacteria was on the gum afterwards.

"A whole lot of bacteria here... and several small marsupials"

And whether the germs had fresh breath

They generally found around 100,000,000 bacteria on each piece, hopefully not after counting them all by hand. This means about a hundred million fewer bacteria in your mouth after chewing gum than before, which is definitely good news for your teeth. It’s equivalent to brushing your teeth without toothpaste. Basically the germs get stuck in the gum, and being a bit short on upper-body strength, are unable to free themselves. The flip side is that there are a few factors at play. Firstly, it depends on how long you chew for. For sheer bacteria removal power, the optimum chewing time is 30 seconds. After that the gum starts losing its adhesiveness and releasing germs that it caught previously. On the other hand, you catch a much wider variety of bacteria species by chewing for longer. So if you want to start a microbe zoo, chew for as long as possible. If you want cleaner teeth, don’t go past 30 seconds. The other catch is that it has to be sugar free gum. Otherwise you’re just replacing bacteria with sugar which, for obvious reasons, isn’t recommended by 9 out of 10 dentists.


The tenth dentist, about to perform a rhinoplasty

Thirdly, it’s worth noting that this study was conducted on behalf of Wrigley’s, proud makers of sugar-free chewing gum. I’m not saying that means it’s unreliable. After all, if anyone wants to know all the secrets of gum, they do. All I’m saying is that if gum was found to be a health disaster you probably wouldn’t hear about it from them. It definitely has a lot of possibilities though. Like gum that targets specific germs. Before long you might be seeing chewing gum designed to clear out sore throats, clean cavities or even act as a substitute for regular brushing. But that’s not here yet. Today’s gum still needs you to follow the sugar-free and 30-second rules… at which point it’s still isn’t as good as a normal tooth-brushing. If you’re looking for a reason to chew gum, do it because it helps cognition and attention span. And stop sticking it around the place. That’s disgusting. Source:


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