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Chewing Gum News You Can Use

October 26, 2011 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Television commercials advertising chewing gum tend to focus on superficial reasons to use their products. Often times, flavor is the central selling point. Fresher breath is frequently cited as part of the sales pitch as well. Lately, other novel marketing strategies such as multiple flavors per pack and unexpected flavors such as apple pie, mint-chip and piña colada have re-energized this rapidly growing segment of the candy marketplace. However, what is rarely mentioned in discussions about chewing gum is its potential to promote improved dental and mental health. That is, if you select natural, sugar-free gums that contain therapeutic ingredients.

The best documented use for chewing gum is its ability to reduce dental decay and periodontal disease. Recent studies continue to report that xylitol, a sugar alcohol often used in natural gum, effectively decreases the level of a cariogenic bacteria known mutans streptococci. Select plant extracts and spices including cinnamon and magnolia bark have likewise been shown to discourage bad breath or halitosis, promote gum health and protect enamel. But, the health benefits of chewing gum extend far beyond the confines of the oral cavity. For instance, a current publication in the journal Appetite reveals that chewing gum in 15 minute increments suppresses cravings for snack foods and promotes fullness. In the trial, a 10% decline in snack food consumption was noted in a group of 60 men and women. Even more fascinating is gum’s impact on cognitive functioning and psychological scores. Four studies, all published in 2011, provide compelling evidence that chewing gum: a) improves alertness and memory – especially when it’s enhanced with an herbal source of caffeine (guarana); b) lessens feelings of anxiety, confusion and depression; c) supports academic performance on “cognitive tasks” and standardized math tests in adults and children alike.

In the future, I believe we’ll see a greater selection of all-natural, “functional” chewing gums on the market. These products will have a specific purpose beyond that of conventional gum. Until then, I suggest looking for chewing gums commonly found in health food stores that are free of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. In particular, I recommend seeking out those that use xylitol as a primary sweetening agent.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 - Chewing Gum Moderates Multi-Task Induced Shifts in Stress, Mood, and (link)

Study 2 - Effect of Xylitol Gum on the level of Oral Mutans Streptococci of(link)

Study 3 - The Effect of Xylitol on the Composition of the Oral Flora(link)

Study 4 - Effect of a Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Containing Magnolia Bark Extract (link)

Study 5 - Short-Term Germ-Killing Effect of Sugar-Sweetened Cinnamon Chewing (link)

Study 6 - Herbal-Caffeinated Chewing Gum, but Not Bubble Gum, Improves (link)

Study 7 - Effects of Chewing Gum on Short-Term Appetite Regulation (link)

Study 8 - Effect of Regular Gum Chewing on Levels of Anxiety, Mood (link)

Study 9 - Cognitive Advantages of Chewing Gum. Now You See Them (link)

Study 10 - Brief Report: Gum Chewing Affects Standardized Math Scores (link)

Xylitol Gum Use May Reduce Cavity & Gingivitis Risk

Source: Eur J Dent. 2011 January; 5(1): 24–31. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Dental Health, Mental Health

5 Comments & Updates to “Chewing Gum News You Can Use”

  1. liverock Says:

    JP

    Its great that chewing gum is now available with so many health benefits, unfortunately for me the downside of chewing gum has always been that if you have mercury fillings the increase in the mercury released from fillings can be up to 5 times the normal level.

    http://jdr.sagepub.com/content/75/1/594

    As most people have at least some mercury fillings, I think it might be advisable they consider the intermittent use of chewing gum and not something they should be doing regularly throughout the day, although looking at the photo of the gum in the candy store I’m probably wasting my time in giving this advice!

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you for pointing this out, Liverock. I think your suggestion is a prudent one to follow. There are several studies I’m aware of that draw a correlation between gum chewing and higher serum mercury levels. An important observation to be sure.

    http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.0900736

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2464356/?tool=pubmed

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9409909

    For those with multiple amalgam fillings, judicious use of chewing gum is warranted.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. KMJvet Says:

    Just so people know, xylitol is toxic to dogs. If you have this stuff around, make sure it’s not where you’re dog can get it such as chewed gum thrown in the trash.

  4. JP Says:

    Agreed. Thank you for pointing that out, KMJvet. A list of other common foods and ingredients that can be dangerous for dogs can be found here:

    http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-foods-your-dog-should-never-eat

    Be well!

    JP

  5. JP Says:

    Updated 06/13/16:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885673/

    J Dent (Shiraz). 2016 Jun;17(2):149-54.

    The Efficacy of Green Tea Chewing Gum on Gingival Inflammation.

    STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: According to previous studies, the components of green tea extracts can inhibit the growth of a wide range of gram-pos-itive and -negative bacterial species and might be useful in controlling oral infections.

    PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of green tea chewing gum on the rate of plaque and gingival inflammation in subjects with gingivitis.

    MATERIALS AND METHOD: In this double-blind randomize controlled clinical trial, 45 patients with generalized marginal gingivitis were selected and divided into two groups of green tea (23) and placebo (22) chewing gum. The patients chewed two gums for 15 minutes daily for three weeks. Sulcus bleeding index (SBI) and approximal plaque index (API) were studied at the baseline, 7 and 21 days later. Saliva sampling was conducted before and after 21 days for evaluation of IL-1β. The results were analyzed and compared by using repeated measures ANOVA, paired t test, and independent two-sample t test (α=0.05).

    RESULT: The results showed that chewing gum significantly affected the SBI and API (p< 0.001). Paired t test showed that the two groups were significantly different regarding the mean changes of SBI and API at different periods of 1-7, 1-21, and 7-21 (p< 0.001). Concerning IL-1β, the repeated measures ANOVA revealed that the effect of chewing gum was significant (p<0.001). Moreover, paired t-test represented no significant difference between the mean changes of IL-1β within 1-21 day (p= 0.086).

    CONCLUSION: The green tea chewing gum improved the SBI and API and effectively reduced the level of IL-1β.

    Be well!

    JP

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