A new study published in the PLOS ONE journal has found that chewing gum could trap and remove bacteria from around ten percent of the mouth, making it as effective as flossing – thought to trap up to 100 million bacteria. The study involved volunteers chewing gum for varying amounts of time, no more than then minutes, as the experiment revealed that the optimal chew time for trapping bacteria was less than one minute.
The paper said that ‘despite an increasing diversity in species developing over time in chewed gums’ chewing gum for longer than a minute led to a gradual decrease in the number of bacteria that were being trapped, so chewing for long periods of time is not going to clean the teeth any more. It was suggested that this is because the bacteria are first trapped and then released back into the mouth as the gum is chewed for longer.
Researchers found that gum might clean the teeth but does not remove bacteria from other places in the mouth, such as the tongue, so modern oral hygiene has not reached beyond the humble toothbrush just yet. However, if you’re not able to floss for some reason, it’s good to know that chewing gum can be substituted in a pinch.