Bursting chewing gum’s bubble

On average, my sister chews six to seven pieces of gum a day. When embarking on a road trip, rather than checking the gas or putting on her seat belt, she first and foremost makes sure there is a pack of Orbit Winter Mint in the glove compartment. Whereas I need coffee to study, she needs gum. I know she has an exam the following day, when I find littered wrappers throughout the apartment and can hear her chomping away down the hall.

I was certain her addictive behavior was detrimental to her health. How can that much gum be good for your mouth? Where do dentists draw the line? Finally, I decided to confront my sister and the blonde Orbit woman all at once. I wasn’t about to let gum myths plague her hygiene and my sanity (you would not believe how loud one can chew gum), and so I consulted Vivek Patel, senior in LAS and president of the Illinois Pre-Dental Club.

From Bubble Yum to Bazooka, Patel revealed that — unsurprisingly — sugary gum isn’t the best choice for chewing. Recommending Orbit, Trident and Extra as the safest brands among gum suppliers, Patel preached the path for a sugarless gum addiction, and in the process also proved how wrong I was about my sister’s chewing habits.

Ready to solve the rest of those myths behind all that munching and masticating? Me too!

*Sugarless gum is bad for digestion: FALSE*

As stated before, Patel assured that sugarless gum is the best gum on the market for your mouth. Explaining that the sugar in most gums breaks down your teeth, Patel said that the bacteria in your mouth latches onto the sugar and produces harmful acids that help to form cavities. Sugarless gum, on the other hand, helps to produce more saliva in the mouth that works to clean and prevent cavities from inducing terror on your trip to the dentist.

*Gum cures bad breath: FALSE*

Patel explained that while gum can mask bad breath, it is very difficult to eliminate the smell completely and permanently. Though the chemicals in gum help to reduce the smell, the second the gum stops working, the sooner bad breath will be back to haunt your first date dreams.

*Gum helps whiten teeth: FALSE (probably)*

Patel said that this topic is a highly controversial one among the American Dental Association. While the organization does a lot of research in debunking this mystery, there are few substantial indications of such a phenomenon. According to Patel, the ADA has approved a couple of brands, but the evidence remains minimal and the findings of their research difficult to decipher.

*Gum chewing is good for you: TRUE*

Contrary to my ignorant belief, chewing gum on a daily basis (as long as it’s sugarless) gives your jaw a good workout.

“It’s actually beneficial to chew gum between 20 and 30 minutes a day and after every time you eat,” Patel said.

That way, he explains, your mouth will have created enough saliva from the chewing to clear away the chemicals in your mouth from the food you’ve recently consumed. To be brief, the more saliva in your mouth the better.

And last but not least, a hidden bonus of gum chewing? It burns up to 10-20 calories a piece.

If that’s not motivation for cleaning up your dirty mouth, I don’t know what is.

_Emily is a junior in LAS._