Chewing-gum, a fun chewy household name is a product you would most likely find in the pockets and bags of people of all ages and sexes across the globe.
Dating as far back as the Neolithic period, this confection comes in a variety of flavors (ranging from mint to fruit flavors… and even licorice!), and has a long history in many countries.
Unlike many candies which contain sugar and can wear down a person’s enamel and teeth without continual brushing, dental professionals say some gum types have been created to have helpful properties, and can be a benefit to overall tooth care.
Whether done mindlessly while working, driving, just sitting in class or jiving, chewing gum is still en vogue today and opinions about it abound.
One of the most apparent effects of chewing mint gum is the instant fresh breath that it provides. A good mint flavored gum can help to get rid of those foul smelling bacterium that live inside your mouth, replacing them with a much more pleasant smell (as well as making for a better first impression on a first date or job interview).
Loveth Onuigbo Chiamaka, a University of Lagos student who visited The Daily Times office in Lagos, acknowledged that, whether we chose to admit it or not, keeping your mouth shut for a long time would produce a not-too-pleasant odour, even if you had brushed your teeth beforehand.
This would irritate and annoy people when you speak and they would think you are a dirty person who does not brush his or her teeth. Therefore I always chew mint gum when I am conversing with people.”
Chiamaka’s opinion confirms report of a research by the Health Site, which suggests that, maintaining a good oral hygiene is a must for everyone; and chewing our favorite sugar-free gum can prevent tooth decay as it cleans up leftover food on the tooth surface, thereby increasing saliva production which cleanses the oral cavity and teeth.
Lagos financial analyst, Yoseni Oluwatosi, contributing to the discourse, revealed that chewing gum helps her to relieve hunger.
“I feel satisfied and don’t feel the need to eat when I chew the gum; it also helps me curb other feelings like nausea. I cannot stand the smell from public buses as they make me feel nauseous, so I take on chewing gum as my remedy,” she disclosed.
A study conducted at Louisiana State University, showed that people who chewed gum after eating lunch had less food cravings later in the day and generally crave less for sweats.
To others like Veronica Dailu, a receptionist in Lagos, chewing gum is key to keeping her alert. “When I feel sleepy, tired and weak at work, all I need is chewing gum to bounce me back to life.”
Blood flow booster
A United Kingdom based 2009 study among several others recently suggests that chewing gum can boost your mood while combating stress, tension and high blood pressure.
According to Dr. Andrew Scholey, co-author of that 2009 paper and director of the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Australia’s Swinburne University, “There is evidence that chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain by 25 to 40 percent.
That boost will last for about 20 minutes, but that’s enough to wake your brain up and get ready for the day. This may contribute to the increase in alertness that is consistently associated with gum chewing.”
A junior high (SS3) student in Fortuneland College notes some other “silly benefits” that accruing from chewing gum. “One of them is the excitement you get from the bubbles and the crispy sound you get when you chew.
Also, chewing gum makes you look cool in front of peers.” She explained that as a “Soft looking person, I often get bullied by peers.
But when I chew gum, I look tough and no one dares to bully me!” she said, suggesting that one of the reasons why teenagers become addicted to chewing gum is to curb boredom and look tough.
Addiction, headaches and pain
Against this backdrop, a general medical practitioner at the Agboola hospital in Iju-Hills, Lagos, Dr Tunde Agboola, cautions that as beneficial as the act of chewing gum may be, the main thing people should watch out for when chewing gum is addiction, warning that addiction may lead to headache and facial pain.
“Although chewing gum is used to straighten jaw/facial muscles in case of paralysis, addiction can lead to a dysfunction of the same face which was straightened by the chewing gum.
Although a certain kind of chewing gum can help a smoking addict to quit smoking, the smoker has to watch out against falling into another addiction of gum chewing,” he said.
Buttressing these claims, a renowned dentist in Beverly-Hills, California, USA, Dr. Thomas P. Connelly, revealed that chewing gum can cause some mouth disorders in certain people, such as a clicking or popping noise in the jaw, or tire out jaw muscles.
In an article published in the Huffpost blog, Connelly warned that chewing gum that does not use helpful additives (like Xylitol and calcium lactate) can be risky and damaging to the teeth.
“The most common ingredient in standard gums is sugar which is commonly linked with causing numerous chronic dietary problems, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and emotional disorders,” he revealed.
The dentist then advised people to chew the right gum in moderation if they hope to enjoy all the health benefits and avoid the health risks.