To Chew or Not To Chew Gum

To Chew or Not To Chew Gum

Many people like to chew gum, perhaps for the flavor or to freshen their breath, without really knowing all the effects that it can have. Some people are against chewing gum because it has been associated to several undesirable effects.

Chewing gum can cause tooth decay.  Bathing your teeth in the sugar or the acidic flavorings of sugar-free gums can damage your teeth. Continually chewing gum on one side of your mouth may trigger temporomandibular joint disorder in the jaw, a chronic jaw muscle imbalance. There are also reports that link chewing gum to gastrointestinal problems and headache.

The Good News about Chewing Gum

On the other hand, there are studies that show something good that results from chewing gum. Chewing gum offers the potential to boost a person’s ability to concentrate.

There was a research conducted by British investigators that found an association between chewing gum and boosting the concentration of a person while engaged in sight-related memory tasks. Now, this study would like to find out if chewing gum has any positive effect when doing hearing-related memory tasks.

The 38 study participants were divided into 2 groups and each one went through a 30-minute listening activity; one group did the task while chewing gum. The participants listened to the reading of a list of numbers including numbers one to nine in random order. Their ability to quickly and accurately detect a pattern in the list of numbers was given scores.

More Focus in the Long Run

After the analysis of all collected data, the researchers reported that the group participants who chewed gum were able to perform better than those who did not. They were quicker and more accurate particularly when the task was almost done. This report was included in the British Journal of Psychology.

An interesting observation on the study results was that the participants who did not chew gum had slightly better performance at the start of the task. However, towards the end of the task, the participants who chewed gum performed better. This finding appears to suggest that people who need to do a task continuously over a long period of time could focus better when chewing gum.

Photo credits: By Mary (Mayr) from Southern California, U.S.A. – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Categories: Health
Tags: chewing gum