Chewing of gum contributes to maintenance of oral health
GRONINGEN, the Netherlands: An international team of researchers at the University of Groningen has conducted a study regarding oral bacteria and the chewing of gum. Their findings provided evidence that bacteria are trapped inside gum pieces and are thereby removed from the oral cavity.
Bacteria are a central cause of many oral diseases, including caries and periodontal disease. Toothbrushing and flossing are essential ways to remove bacteria from the oral cavity. The chewing of gum is also considered to contribute to the maintenance of oral health. In order to investigate this hypothesis, researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Biomedical Engineering developed novel methods to qualify and quantify oral bacteria trapped in chewed gum.
Two different methods were applied to determine the number of bacteria within chewing gum. The first method used the sonication of gum moulded to standard dimensions. The second method used an analysis based on the quantitative polymerase chain reaction and microbial composition. The researchers then had five volunteers chew gum for up to 10 minutes. After that, the numbers of colony-forming units and the total numbers of bacteria trapped in the chewed gum were determined using the two different methods.
The scientists could clearly visualise the bacteria trapped in the gum using scanning electron microscopy. Around 100 million bacteria were identified in each piece of gum. According to the researchers, this number is comparable to the number of bacteria removed by toothbrushing or flossing. They estimate that around 10 per cent of the bacteria in saliva can be removed by chewing one piece of gum. Thus, chewing gum on a daily basis can contribute to reducing the bacterial load in the oral cavity in the long term.
According to the researchers, their findings may promote the development of gum that selectively removes specific disease-related bacteria from the oral cavity and that can contribute to an overall healthy and diverse oral microbiome.
The study, titled “Quantification and qualification of bacteria trapped in chewed gum”, was published in the PLOS ONE journal on 20 January 2015.