Chewing Gum benefits and Risks

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Chewing gum Quick Facts
Name: Chewing gum
Origin Thomas Adams accidentally invented the chewing gum in 1869 in Finland.
Colors Varies
Taste Differs
Calories 11 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Carbohydrate (2.23%)
Total dietary Fiber (0.26%)
Total Fat (0.03%)
Health benefits Reduction of oral dryness, Clearance of interdental debris, Improve cognition, Promotes alertness, Treat stress
Chewing gum is a soft and cohesive substance formed to chew without swallowing. Chewing gum of present days consists of sweeteners, gum base, flavors, softeners/plasticizers, colors and hard of powdered polyol coating. The texture is similar to rubber due to the physical-chemical properties of polymer, resin components and plasticizer contributing sticky, elastic-plastic and chewy characteristics. It consists of latex both artificial and natural. People used naturally chewy or aromatic substances as thirst quenchers and breathe fresheners throughout history. Greeks used mastic tree resin, Italians used frankincense, Arabs used beeswax and West Indians used aromatic twigs. The resin of tree is widely known and spruce sap is used as chewing substances in North America for centuries. Even though spruce gum was accessible to anyone going out in woods and extract from tree, John and his son expected they could be packaged and market it. They experimented with manufacturing of chewing gum sticks in mid 1800s. Initially, spruce gum is boiled and skimmed off impurities such as bark before addition of sugar and other fillers. Then it is rolled, cooled and cut into sticks which is dipped in cornstarch then wrapped in paper and put in small wooden boxes. The company thrived and business grew when younger Curtis grown further when younger Curtis developed machine to produce gum in mass and found first chewing gum factory. The manufacturing process of Curtis is similar to one used for producing chewing gum. With the success of Curtis, other spruce gum factories started during nineteenth century. William F. Semple got first patent on chewing gum in 1869. This formula attempted earlier for creating latex based gum but never marketed or manufactured it. The chewing gum was manufactured by Thomas Adams. William Wrigley Jr. started most successful chewing gum company in 1892. The company was run in 1932 by founder’s son and grandson which formed wide range of flavored gums. Presently, companies made cinnamon flavored gum, sugar free gum and non-stick bubble gum. In 1970s, sugarless gum was developed with nicotine gum, athlete’s gum, liquid center gum and chewing gum which do not stick to dental work. Manufacturer tried to add abrasives to chewing gum which is marketed to be good for teeth.


Chewing gum has been developed from convergent evolution process as the traces of this habit differ in many early civilizations. The precursors to chewing gum is derived from natural growths local to region and purely chewed out the instinctual desire to masticate. The chewers during early period does not desire to get nutritional benefits from chewable substances but as the time passed on, they desired breath freshening or teeth cleaning capabilities.

Since Neolithic period, many forms of chewing gum existed. The chewing gum found in Kierikki in Finland was 6000 year old made from birch bark tar having tooth imprints. Gums made from tar possess antiseptic properties as well as medicinal benefits. Chemically, it is related to petroleum tar and due to this, it varies from early gum. Aztecs and Mayans were the first ones for exploiting positive properties of gum. They used chicle which is a natural tree gum used as a base to make gum like substance and to hold objects together for everyday use. In Ancient Greece, various forms of Chewing gums are chewed. Ancient Greeks used mastic gum which is made from resin of mastic tree. Mastic gum possesses antiseptic properties and used to maintain oral health. Cultures have chewed gum from grasses, plants and resins.

Chewing gum could be traced back to civilizations but the commercialization and modernization of the product appeared in United States. American Indians used to chew resin formed from sap of spruce trees. This practice was followed by New England settlers and in 1848, the first chewing gum known The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum was developed and sold by John B. Curtis. Due to this, industrializing West forgot tree gums and rediscovered chewing gum. In 1860s, John Colgan created first flavored Chewing gum. He combined aromatic flavoring tolu and powdered sugar for forming small sticks of flavored chewing gum and named Taffy Tolu. He started to manufacture or package chicle based chewing gum acquired from Manilkara chicle which is a tropical evergreen tree.

Health Benefits of Chewing gum

Discussed below are some health benefits of chewing gum:

  1. Reduction of oral dryness

An individual with dry mouth or xerostomia provides relief from dry mouth provides relief from symptoms with regular sugar free chewing gum. Generally, it is preferred by dry mouth patients accomplish by use of regular sugar free chewing gum.

  1. Clearance of interdental debris

Chewing gum helps to trigger elimination of interdental debris which is left after consuming food. But the removal is slightly as direct attachment of debris to gum but also with increased mastication or salivation that aids to discard debris. The debris is left after consumption of food containing fermentable sugars and its elimination prevents oral bacteria from producing acids which desorb calcium or phosphates from enamel providing oral health benefit.

  1. Improve cognition

Studies show that chewing gum promotes mental performance. It improves cognitive functions such as memory, concentration and reaction times. It promotes blood flow to brain through chewing. It promotes oxygen to brain enhancing memory and other cognitive functions.

  1. Promotes alertness

Studies have shown that chewing gum helps to promote alertness. The chewing movement of jaw stimulates nerves and brain parts related with increase in blood flow. It assists people to stay awake longer. For this purpose, mint flavored gum is found to be helpful.

  1. Treat stress

Chewing gum is found to provide relief from energy and makes feel calm. It could be helpful for nervous habits such as leg shaking and nail biting when feeling stressed. Studies shows that chewing gum helps to reduce stress hormone, cortisol.

  1. Dental health

It is recommended to chew sugarless gum for about 20 minutes after meals in order to lower plaque, reduce cavities, promote tooth enamel and lower gingivitis. The increase in flow of saliva lowers acid on teeth causing decay. Also the gum with xylitol helps to lower decay causing bacteria. But high consumption of sorbitol causes GI discomfort.

  1. Relieve heartburn

Chewing gum is helpful for people to combat heartburn and acid reflux by lowering acid in esophagus. Increase in production of saliva increases swallowing clearing acid much quickly. It is reasonable to avoid spearmint and peppermint flavor as it increase acid levels and worsen heartburn.

  1. Freshens breathe

Cinnamon flavored gum having plant essential oil helps to lower bacteria in mouth reason for bad breath. Breathe freshening gums also combat bacteria not just masking odor.

  1. Promote satiety

Chewing gum helps to restrain food cravings which makes one to consume less. It prevents snack between meals and save calories.

  1. Cure for nausea

Herbal gums such as Sea Band Ginger gum helps to provide relief from nausea, motion sickness and morning sickness. Ginger and production of saliva soothes acid or stomach irritability.


  • Do not ingest chewing gum because it could not be digested by the bodies.
  • Do not stick it in hair.

Other Facts        

  • While cutting onions, chew gum to stop eyes from tearing up.
  • Turkey has the most gum companies and is followed by United States.
  • Chewing gum prevents popping ears while travelling on plane.






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