The study published in the journal Plos One by Stefan W. Wessel and others was funded by Wrigley and two of the gum firm’s researchers co-authored the study.
The researchers finger-chewed a known amount of bacteria into gum and five volunteers chewed the gum for 10 minutes. The study authors then analysed the chewin g gum pieces using scanning electron-microscopy and found around 100 million bacteria in the samples with the number of species increased by chewing.
“Although this number may be considered low, it shows that when gum is chewed on a daily basis, it may contribute on the long-term to reduce the bacterial load in the oral cavity…”
Similar results through flossing
The research team conducted an unpublished study with three human volunteers that found flossing removed a comparable amount of bacteria to gum chewing.
“Chewing however, does not necessarily remove bacteria from the same sites of the dentition as does brushing or flossing, therefore its results may be noticeable on a more long-term than those of brushing or flossing,” said the study.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued six positive opinions on the health benefits of sugar-free chewing gum, including that gum helps to neutralize plaque acids and reduces oral dryness.
PLOS One - Published: January 20, 2015
‘Quantification and Qualification of Bacteria Trapped in Chewed Gum’
Authors: Stefan W. Wessel, Henny C. van der Mei, David Morando, Anje M. Slomp, Betsy van de Belt-Gritter, Amarnath Maitra, Henk J. Busscher