A study regarding the effects of chewing gum on oral bacteria was conducted by a team of Dutch researchers at the University of Groningen, Netherlands in early 2015. It’s not one to forget. Here’s a recap:
Evidence from their findings showed that oral bacteria got trapped inside chewing gum, thus removing the bacteria from the oral cavity.
Typically, tooth-brushing, flossing and mouth-washing are considered to be the main ways to remove bacteria from your teeth, tongue and gums. But the Dutch researchers set out to test the hypothesis that chewing gum could also contribute to oral health maintenance.
The research team had volunteers chew gum for up to 10 minutes. Then, the chewed gum was tested for bacteria and colony forming units.
The results were astounding.
Via scanning electron microscopy, the researchers could visually identify bacteria trapped in the gum (see pic). In each piece of gum, around 100 million bacteria were detected. In comparison, tooth-brushing and flossing removed a similar amount of bacteria.
Chewing one piece of gum also reduced about 10% of bacteria in saliva.
The Dutch research team concluded that chewing gum regularly helps to reduce your harmful oral bacteria load significantly. Their findings may promote the development of chewing gum that selectively targets oral disease-related bacteria for better oral health in the future. .
For the time being though, current brands of chewing gum are no substitute for regular tooth-brushing and flossing to maintain your oral health. However, if you are not in a position to brush or floss (e.g. at work), then drinking water and chewing some gum may help reduce your oral bacteria load during the day.
Research paper: “Quantification and Qualification of Bacteria Trapped in Chewed Gum”, 2015. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117191