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Section Questions and Answers

Chewing Gum and Bubble Gum

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  1. How can chewing gum improve oral health?
  2. Will any chewing gum do?
  3. What claims do manufacturers make for chewing gum?
  4. What active ingredients do different chewing gums contain?
  5. When is the best time to chew gum?
  6. Can chewing replace brushing and flossing?
  7. Why has it taken so long to recognise the usefulness of chewing gum?
  8. How can chewing gum help older people?
  9. Can chewing gum improve memory?
  10. Chewing gum--facts and fiction: a review of gum-chewing and oral health
  11. Chewing gum as part of a calorie controlled diet
  12. Fun facts about chewing gum?
  13. How is chewing gum is made?
  14. How to remove chewing gum

Above sketch by courtesy of Pulaski Academy

Sketch below by courtesy of Energy Info.Admin, at eia.doe.gov

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1. How can chewing gum improve oral health?

  • Chewing gum can help to maintain oral health in a number of ways:
    • Chewing gum helps to reduce tooth decay by removing food debris from the teeth.
    • The action of chewing stimulates the flow of saliva.
    • Saliva neutralises mouth acids which cause decay.
    • Saliva contains minerals that strengthen the teeth.
    • An adequate flow of saliva is essential for a healthy and comfortable mouth.
    • The action of the chewing gum on the teeth can help to remove plaque as it is starting to form.
    • This helps to prevent gingivitis which is caused by plaque and calculus.
    • Snacking between meals can be reduced. Less food particles around teeth will lower the risk of tooth decay.
    • It helps to reduce or resist the urge to smoke. Smoking is a serious risk to oral and general health.

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2. Will any chewing gum do?

  • It is important to chew sugarless gum. Sugar is one of the main causes of decay and gum disease.
  • There are chewing gums available that are sold as "dental gum". They are all sugar free.

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3. What claims do manufacturers make for chewing gum?

    "Research from around the world has shown conclusively that chewing sugarfree gum stimulates the production of saliva, which helps to neutralise the plaque acids that cause dental caries.
    The use of sugarfree gum is increasingly accepted as an aid to oral hygiene and as part of an anti-caries prevention program.
    Many dentists now widely recommend chewing sugarfree gum to their patients".

  • These are some of the claims made for chewing gum by the manufacturers.
    • It helps to neutralise plaque acids.
    • It protects against tooth decay.
    • It helps neutralise the acids that cause tooth decay.
    • It fights or reduces plaque.
    • It keeps teeth brighter.
    • It freshens breath.
    • It provides oral care between brushings.
    • It forms an invisible protective barrier to prevent plaque from adhering to the tooth surface.
    • Some manufacturers call their chewing gum "dental gum"
    • Chewing sugarfree gum can help prevent tooth decay by up to 40%
    • Chewing sugarfree gum increases the production of saliva by up to 10 times the resting rate
    • Relaxes and eases tension
    • Helps one stay alert and awake
    • Assists concentration
    • Lessens the urge to smoke which can cause tooth staining, gum disease and oral cancer.
    • Acts as a pleasant way to take vitamins and medicine
    • Reduces ear discomfort and anxiety when flying
    • Satisfies snack cravings
    • Cleans teeth after meals

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4. What active ingredients do different chewing gums contain?

  • Most chewing gum manufactured today shares the same main ingredients:
    • A gum base which is made of man-made latex and divided into two major categories, chewing and bubble gum, with the latter having more elasticity.
    • Some gums have artificial sweeteners to replace sugar.
    • Sweeteners, primarily sugar and corn syrup, and flavorings. Some also contain softeners, such as glycerin and vegetable oil.
    • The amount of each added to the mix varies as to which type of gum is being manufactured. For example, bubble gum contains more of the gum base to enable the bubble.
    • Baking soda neutralises mouth acids.
    • Xylitol, it is claimed, reduces plaque.
    • Mint, peppermint and cinnamon flavourings freshen the breath.
    • Tooth whitening ingredients help to lighten tooth colour.

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5. When is the best time to chew gum?

  • It is best to chew soon after eating.
    • Chewing for about fifteen minutes removes food debris and plaque, and stimulates the flow of saliva.
    • Remember that plaque starts to form again within half and hour of cleaning your teeth.

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6. Can chewing gum replace brushing and flossing?

  • No, it can't. Chewing can add to your daily routine of dental care, but it cannot replace it.
  • Chewing gum does not clean between the teeth. Floss cleans between your teeth, which is where plaque can do the most damage.

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7. Why has it taken so long to recognise the usefulness of chewing gum?

  • Eating patterns are changing and so is the awareness of oral health.
    • Frequent snacking is now common. This calls for the frequent use of chewing gum.
    • People are eating more refined, sugar-rich foods.
    • High sugar consumption as well as frequent sugar consumption, are some of the main causes of tooth decay.
    • Frequent snackers may need to clean their teeth more often than twice a day to prevent plaque formation and tooth decay.
    • Chewing gum is easy to have on hand to clean teeth and freshen breath.
  • Refined foods do not require the vigorous chewing which increases the production of saliva.
    • Chewing gum can help to solve this problem.
  • The use of sugarfree chewing gum has been associated with a reduction in the quantity and development of plaque, which causes tooth decay.
    • Chewing encourages the flow of saliva, which keeps the mouth healthy.

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8. How can chewing gum help older people?

  • Many older people suffer from a dry mouth condition called xerostomia.
    • It can be caused by medical ailments or medication.
    • Bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease are all symptoms of xerostomia.
    • Chewing gum stimulates saliva flow and can assist in solving the problems of xerostomia.

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9. Can chewing gum improve memory?

    Chewing gum can improve memory, say UK psychologists.

    They found that people who chewed throughout tests of both long-term and short-term memory produced significantly better scores than people who did not.
    But gum-chewing did not boost memory-linked reaction times, used as a measure of attention.

    "These results provide the first evidence that chewing gum can improve long-term and working memory," says Andrew Scholey of the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, UK.
    "There are a number of potential explanations - but they are all very speculative."

    One third of the 75 adults tested chewed gum during the 20-minute battery of memory and attention tests.
    One third mimicked chewing movements, and the remainder did not chew.

    The gum-chewers' scores were 24 per cent higher than the controls' on tests of immediate word recall, and 36 per cent higher on tests of delayed word recall.
    They were also more accurate on tests of spatial working memory.

    "The findings are intriguing, although it is clear that questions remain to be addressed," says Kim Graham of the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK. "In particular: what is the mechanism by which chewing improves memory?"

    Chewing it over

    There are three main potential explanations, says Scholey.
    In March 2000, Japanese researchers showed that brain activity in the hippocampus, an area important for memory, increases while people chew - but it is not clear why.

    Recent research has also found that insulin receptors in the hippocampus may be involved in memory.
    "Insulin mops up glucose in the bloodstream and chewing causes the release of insulin, because the body is expecting food.
    If insulin receptors in the brain are involved in memory, we may have an insulin-mediated mechanism explaining our findings - but that is very, very speculative," Scholey says.

    But there could be a simpler answer.
    "One interesting thing we saw in our study was that chewing increased heart rate. Anything that improves delivery of things like oxygen in the brain, such as an increased heart rate, is a potential cognitive enhancer to some degree," he says.

    But a thorough explanation for the findings will have to account for why some aspects of memory improved but others did not, Graham says.
    She points out that gum-chewers' ability to quickly decide whether complex images matched images they had previously been shown was no better than the controls'.

    Scholey presented his research at the annual meeting of the British Psychological Society in Blackpool, Lancashire, UK.

    14:30 13 March 2002
    NewScientist.com news service
    Emma Young, Blackpool

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10. Chewing gum--facts and fiction: a review of gum-chewing and oral health

    The world market for chewing gum is estimated to be 560,000 tons per year, representing approximately US $5 billion. Some 374 billion pieces of chewing gum are sold worldwide every year, representing 187 billion hours of gum-chewing if each piece of gum is chewed for 30 minutes.

    Chewing gum can thus be expected to have an influence on oral health.
    The labeling of sugar-substituted chewing gum as "safe for teeth" or "tooth-friendly" has been proven beneficial to the informed consumer.

    Such claims are allowed for products having been shown in vivo not to depress plaque pH below 5.7, neither during nor for 30 minutes after the consumption.
    However, various chewing gum manufacturers have recently begun to make distinct health promotion claims, suggesting, e.g., reparative action or substitution for mechanical hygiene.
    The aim of this critical review--covering the effects of the physical properties of chewing gum and those of different ingredients both of conventional and of functional chewing gum--is to provide a set of guidelines for the interpretation of such claims and to assist oral health care professionals in counseling patients.

    The story of gum

    Who was the first person to chew gum? Where was chewing gum invented?
    No one can be absolutely certain who the first gum chewers were, but historians tell us that civilizations around the world were chewing natural gum thousands of years ago.
    Before the invention of the electric light bulb, the telephone or even soda pop, people discovered the pleasure and benefits of chewing gum.

    Natural gum is discovered

    In A.D. 50, Ancient Greeks were believed to chew mastiche, tree resin from the Mastic tree.
    Researchers also discovered that the Mayans, an Indian civilization that inhabited Central American during the second century, enjoyed chewing chicle. This natural gum comes from the latex of the Sapodilla tree and later became the main ingredient in chewing gum.

    The American Indians discovered another natural form of gum-like resin by cutting the bark of spruce trees.
    They introduced the custom of chewing spruce gum to the early North American settlers. These savvy New Englanders created the first commercial chewing gum by selling and trading lumps of spruce.

    Spruce gum continued to be sold in 19th century America until the 1850s when paraffin wax became the new popular base for chewing gum.

    Chewing gum evolves

    Modern chewing gum products appeared in 1869.
    Mexican General, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, conqueror of the Alamo, hired New York inventor Thomas Adams to develop a new form of rubber using chicle.
    Chicle is the same gummy substance people in Mexico had been chewing for centuries. Adams was unsuccessful in developing rubber, but he did succeed in producing the first modern chewing gum. He called it Adams New York No. 1.

    Gum made with chicle and similar latexes soon became more popular than spruce gum or paraffin gum.
    Chicle-base chewing gum was smoother, softer and held its flavor better than any previous type of chewing gum. By the 1900s chewing gum was manufactured in many different shapes and sizes (long pencil-shaped sticks, ball form, flat sticks and blocks) and flavors (peppermint, fruit and spearmint).

    Bubble blowing begins

    Bubble gum was invented in 1928 by Walter Diemer, a cost analyst for the Fleer Company.
    Many people had tried for years to develop a gum that could be blown into bubbles, but it was Mr. Diemer, a young man who knew nothing about chemistry, who found the right combination of ingredients and created a gum that was strong enough and elastic enough to stretch when filled with air.

    Your chewing choices

    Today, synthetic materials replace natural gum ingredients to create a chewing gum with better quality, texture and taste. There are more than 1,000 varieties of gum manufactured and sold in the United States. You can find:

    • gum filled with liquid or speckled with crystals.
    • gum that won't stick or is made without sugar.
    • gum with wild flavor combinations like mango and watermelon.
    • gum in crazy shapes like long rolls of tape.

    The gum base is made of man-made latex and divided into two major categories, chewing and bubble gum, with the latter having more elasticity.
    In recent years, nonstick gum bases for chewing and bubble gums have been formulated to satisfy the needs of more consumers. The above section 9 has information from NACGM (The National Association of Chewing Gum Manufacturers), and T. Imfeld. T. Imfeld

    Department of Preventive Dentistry, Periodontology and Cariology, School of Dentistry, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

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11. Chewing gum as part of a calorie controlled diet

    The table below shows that sugar free gum can be part of a calorie controlled diet.

      Calorie Table for Chewing Gum
      Please note: all snack food calorie values are approximate
      Chewing GumServing SizeCalories
      Bubble gum1 block 27
      Chewing gum, stick1 stick 10
      Bubble Yum1 piece 25
      Bubble Yum, sugarfree1 piece 15
      Bubblicious1 piece 25
      Dentine1 piece 9
      Dentine, sugarfree1 piece 5
      Freedent1 piece 10
      Hubba Bubba1 piece 23
      Hubba Bubba, sugarfree1 piece 14
      Juicy Fruit1 piece 10
      Wrigley's1 piece 10

    By courtesy of annecollins.com

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12. Fun facts about chewing gum

    • The first patent for chewing gum was issued in1869 to William F. Semple, a dentist from Mount Vernon, OH.
    • In the early 1900s, William Wrigley Jr. was one of the first to promote the sale of branded goods through advertising. Wrigley's new spearmint gum quickly became a best seller.
    • During WWII, U.S. military personnel spread the popularity of chewing gum by trading it and giving it as gifts to people in Europe, Africa, Asia and around the world.
    • Cinnamon, spearmint and peppermint are among the most popular flavors of chewing gum today.
    • The first bubble gum cards were issued in the 1930s. The pictures ranged from war heroes to wild west figures to professional athletes. The Topps Company became famous by offering baseball cards in packages of gum and sponsoring bubble gum blowing contests among ball players.
    • Why is bubble gum pink? The color of the first successful bubble gum was pink because it was the only color the inventor had left. The color "stuck" and today bubble gum is still predominantly pink.
    • The largest bubble ever blown was 23 inches in diameter. The record was set July 19, 1994 by Susan Montgomery Williams of Fresno, CA. (Guinness Book of World Records 1998)
    • Can you really remove gum from your hair with peanut butter? It has been proven that if you knead a small amount of peanut butter between your fingers and the gum, the gum will disperse enough so you can remove it.
    • Did you know that North American kids spend approximately half a billion dollars on bubble gum every year?

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13. How is chewing gum is made?

    Each gum has its own specific formula that makes it unique. The exact combinations of ingredients are carefully guarded company secrets. Common ingredients in chewing gum are: powdered sugar, gum base (a combination of food-grade synthetic and natural ingredients that make gum smooth and chewy,) glucose syrup, softeners, flavoring and coloring. Sugar substitutes replace powdered sugar and glucose syrup in sugarless gum.

    Below is a basic step by step process of how chewing gum is made:

    • Step 1: -- The gum base ingredients are melted together and filtered.
    • Step 2: -- Powdered sugar, glucose syrup, flavoring and the other ingredients are slowly added to the gum base until the warm mix thickens like dough.
    • Step 3: -- Machines called extruders are used to blend, smooth and form the gum.
    • Step 4: -- It's time for the gum to be shaped. Gum can be flattened and cut into sticks, or squeezed into a rope shape and cut into chunks, or molded into shapes and candy coated.
    • Step 5: -- After the gum is cut or molded into the appropriate shape, it is lightly sprinkled with powdered sweetener to keep it from sticking to machinery or packaging.
    • Step 6: -- In a carefully temperature controlled room, the gum is cooled for up to 48 hours. This allows the gum to properly set.
    • Step 7: -- If the gum is candy coated, like most gum balls or pellet gum, it is sprayed with liquid sweetener, allowed to dry and then sprayed again. This process is repeated several times until the candy shell reaches the proper thickness.
    • Step 8: -- High speed machines carefully wrap and package the gum in air tight wrappers. This ensures the gum is fresh and soft when you open the pack. Then the gum is shipped to stores around the world for people of all ages to enjoy.

    By courtesy of NACGM
    Tel: 856-439-0500 Fax: 856-439-0525 E-mail: nacgm@ahint.com

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14. How to remove chewing gum

    All gum and its wrappers should always be disposed of in proper trash receptacles, but unfortunately, gum is sometimes accidentally dropped on the carpet or on our clothes. The following are a few suggestions that may help with gum removal:

    From clothing

    For washable clothing, try scraping off any excess gum with a dull knife and then rubbing the area with ice until the remaining gum rolls off into a ball.

    Another method is to seal the dry garment in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer. After the garment is frozen, remove and gently scrape with a dull knife.

    There are also natural solvent extracts from citrus peels which may work. Be sure to test the solvent on an inconspicuous area of your garment first to ensure color fastness, and read all manufacturer's instructions before use.

    You can also try using an extra strength deep-heating rub. Evenly spread the deep-heating rub on the opposite side of the gum residue. Heat the area covered with the rub with a blow dryer for 30 seconds. Immediately after turning off the dryer, the gum residue should easily peel off. Your garment should then be laundered as usual. Be sure to test the rub on an inconspicuous area of your garment first to ensure color fastness.

    From carpet

    First, try scraping any excess gum off your carpet with a dull knife and then rubbing the area with ice until the remaining gum rolls off into a ball.

    You might try using an extra strength deep-heating rub to remove the gum. First, heat the gum residue on your carpet with a blow dryer for one or two minutes. Then, using four-inch squares of plastic (sandwich bags will work nicely) remove as much gum as possible. You may have to apply more heat if the gum hardens. Continue to use the plastic squares to remove the gum. This part of the process should remove 80% of the gum residue.

    Next, spread half a teaspoon of the extra strength deep-heating rub evenly over all the gum residue. Heat with a blow dryer set on high for 30 seconds. After turning off the dryer, immediately use the plastic squares in a circular motion (alternating between clockwise and counter-clock wise movements) to remove the remaining stain. Then apply a mild detergent and water solution with paper towels or a cloth rag, and allow the area to air dry.

    It is important that you try a small amount of the deep-heating rub on an inconspicuous area of your carpet first to ensure color fastness. Be sure to keep deep-heating rub out of the reach of children and follow all safety precautions as recommended by the manufacturer.

    From hair

    Natural solvent extracts from citrus peels often work well to remove gum from hair. Be sure to read all manufacturer's instructions before use. If a citrus peel solvent is not available, mineral oil, cooking oil or peanut butter sometimes work. Add a small amount and kneed the gum with your fingers in order to soften and disperse gum, pull out gradually as gum softens, then rinse with soap and water. These products are helpful, but may leave a residue on the hair and require additional effort to wash hair after gum removal.

    From concrete sidewalks, patios or other hard surfaces

    Many commercial organizations and municipalities have found chewing gum removal from hard surfaces effective with the use of a power washer. For more information about power washer gum removal e-mail NACGM at nacgm@ahint.com

    * These are not guaranteed methods for gum removal.
    By courtesy of NACGM
    Tel: 856-439-0500 Fax: 856-439-0525 nacgm@ahint.com

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