Chewing gum is a type of gum traditionally made of chicle, a natural latex product, or synthetic rubber known as polyisobutylene. For economical and quality reasons, many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle. Chicle is nonetheless still the base of choice for some regional markets, such as Japan.
Sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol has been shown to reduce cavities and plaque. The sweetener sorbitol has the same benefit, but is only about one-third as effective as xylitol. Xylitol is specific in its inhibition of Streptococcus mutans, bacteria that are significant contributors to tooth decay. Xylitol inhibits Streptococcus mutans in the presence of other sugars, with the exception of fructose. Daily doses of xylitol below 3.44 grams are ineffective and doses above 10.32 grams show no additional benefit. Calcium lactate added to toothpaste has reduced calculus formation. One study has shown that calcium lactate enhances enamel remineralization when added to xylitol-containing gum, but another study showed no additional remineralization benefit from calcium lactate or other calcium compounds in chewing-gum.
Other studies indicated that the caries preventive effect of chewing sugar-free gum is related to the chewing process itself rather than being an effect of gum sweeteners or additives, such as polyols and carbamide.
Over 80% of cavities occur inside pits and fissures in chewing surfaces where food is trapped under chewing pressure and carbohydrate like sugar is changed to acid by resident plaque bacteria but brushing cannot reach.
A new chewing gum containing good bacteria which prevent harmful bacteria from destroying our teeth has been developed by scientists working for BASF GmbH and OrganoBalance GmbH. There is also a good chance good bacteria could be added to deodorants to eliminate BO (body odour).
The company says that as well as chewing gum to protect teeth, it is looking into developing toothpastes and mouthwashes which contain this friendly bacteria.
The bacteria is called Lactobacillus, and is usually found in yoghurt. The scientists discovered a new strain, called L. anti-caries.
Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), a harmful type of bacteria, sticks to the surface of the teeth and converts sugar into acids which eat away at the enamel. L. anti-caries makes S. mutans clump together so that it cannot stick to your teeth.