The Surprising History of Chewing Gum and Oral Health

The Surprising History of Chewing Gum and Oral Health

Chewing gum is a common activity practised by people of all ages around the world. But did you know that this simple pleasure has a fascinating history deeply intertwined with oral health? In this blog post, we’ll explore the surprising history of chewing gum and its impact on oral health.

Ancient Origins

Chewing gum dates back thousands of years, with evidence suggesting that ancient civilisations like the Greeks, Mayans, and Native Americans chewed on various substances for enjoyment and oral health benefits. These early gums were often made from tree resin, sap, and other natural ingredients.

The Modern Chewing Gum

The modern chewing gum as we know it today originated in the 19th century. In the 1860s, a man named Thomas Adams stumbled upon chicle, a natural gum from the sapodilla tree, while searching for a more economical alternative to rubber. He soon realised that chicle could be chewed and moulded into a gum-like substance, leading to the creation of the first commercially sold chewing gum.

Chewing Gum and Oral Health

Contrary to popular belief, chewing sugar-free gum can actually be beneficial for oral health. When chewed sugar-free, gum can stimulate saliva production, which helps neutralise acids in the mouth, wash away food particles, and strengthen tooth enamel. Additionally, the act of chewing can help dislodge plaque and debris from the teeth, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Flavoured and Sugar-Free Varieties

Over the years, chewing gum has evolved to include a wide range of flavours and varieties. While traditional gum contains sugar, many manufacturers now offer sugar-free options sweetened with alternative sweeteners like xylitol. Xylitol has been shown to have dental benefits, including reducing the risk of cavities and promoting oral health.

Chewing Gum and Bad Breath

Another surprising benefit of chewing gum is its ability to freshen breath. Chewing gum can help mask bad breath temporarily by stimulating saliva flow and washing away odour-causing bacteria in the mouth. However, it’s important to note that chewing gum is not a substitute for regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups.

The Future of Chewing Gum

As technology advances, so does the world of chewing gum. Today, you can find gum infused with vitamins, minerals, and even caffeine. There are also gums designed to reduce sensitivity and promote overall oral health. With continued innovation, further health-related applications of chewing gum may be developed.

Chewing gum has come a long way since its humble beginnings. From its ancient origins to modern innovations, chewing gum continues to play a role in maintaining oral health. At Crookes & Jenkins Dental, we understand the importance of oral health and the role that chewing gum can play in maintaining a healthy smile. So, the next time you pop a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth, remember the potential benefit it offers for your oral health. And don’t forget to schedule your regular check-ups with us to keep your smile in top condition.


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