Some people find it distasteful to be around gum chompers…but that gum that they are chewing just might help them with their teeth. A study which appeared in the journal Plos One, and led by researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, has found that gum can be effective in getting rid of bacteria in the mouth.
They discovered that the first thirty seconds of chewing were the most effective and that the gum worked only if it was sugar free. They used two types of un-named spearmint gum for their study. They gave it to the participants and asked them to chew their gum for ten minutes. They found that about 100 million bacteria were detected on just one piece of the chewed gum. Chewing one piece of gum can remove as much as 10% of the oral microbial load in saliva.
They did note, however, that “Continued chewing changes the structure of the gums, decreasing the hardness of the gum due to uptake of salivary components and release of water soluble components. This presumably affects the adhesion of bacteria to the gum, causing a release of initially trapped, more weakly adhering bacteria from the gum. Such a change in composition of trapped bacteria is supported by the observation that the diversity of species trapped in chewed gum increases with chewing time.”
Their research could be used for companies that want to develop gum that can selectively remove specific disease-related bacteria.
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