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Biology, Psychology

Constantly chewing gum

I seem to be constantly chewing gum these days. I heard that chewing really minty gum could help with the ability to focus, so now whenever I feel myself drifting off I pull out a piece. Some days this means two or three pieces, which got me wondering, is all of this gum chewing helping or harming my teeth?

As it turns out, I’m in luck. Both the American Dental Association and the Canadian Dental Association state that there are benefits to chewing sugar free gum, particularly after meals. Chewing increases saliva production, which helps to wash away the acids that would otherwise start to eat away at my teeth.

In 2011, Health Canada received a request to identify sugar-free chewing gum as a means of disease reduction. After an extensive review of the literature they came to the conclusion that it did reduce the number of cavities. It didn’t just barely make the cut either: when statistically significant results were examined the difference was 74%.

So, chewing gum is good for my teeth. Now, what about the claim that it helps me focus?

Score another one for the gum. A research study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience found that chewing gum was associated with improved alertness and improved mood. Chewing gum improved reaction times, particularly during complex tasks, and it improved selective and sustained attention. Oh and, half of the subjects received fruit flavoured gum so I can probably branch out on my flavour selection.

So, the verdict is in and I’m definitely going to keep a constant supply of sugar-free gum in my desk drawer.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20132649

http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/product-category-information/chewing-gum

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/gum-gomme-dental-carie-dentaire-eng.php

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About Peyto

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities. Peyto is a reference to Bill Peyto who was an outfitter, trapper, and eventually a park warden in Banff National Park. Peyto Lake and Peyto Glacier are both named after him. He is also a distant relative of mine.

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