New research on the effects of chewing gum continually provides positive results. The American Dental Association linked chewing sugar-free gum to decreased tooth decay and stronger enamel. In addition, a recent study debunked the theory that gum chewing decreased short-term memory performance; on the contrary, the study confirmed that chewing gum helped participants maintain focus for longer periods of time. For vending operators, this could mean the opportunity to discredit negative myths surrounding gum and instead, increase profitability of gum sales. In the past, gum was produced with high sugar content and a short flavor lifespan. Over the last decade, five-piece gum stick packs have made way to square envelopes that hold twelve smaller pieces of chewing gum with longer-lasting flavor and more flavor varieties. Gum is no longer used as just a distraction from food or for curing bad breath. Instead, chewing gum’s fresh new look and gaining popularity provides several consumer benefits that can impact daily life.
Dental health benefits
Chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which in turn washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, according to the American Dental Association. Chewing sugarless gum also increases calcium and phosphate in the mouth, which strengthens tooth enamel. When users chew gum, the increased amount of saliva helps dilute and clear plaque acids that can begin the process of demineralization on teeth. Dr. Joan Gluch, researcher and director of community oral health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, suggests that sugarless gum is an practical recommendation by dentists for patients wishing to avoid cavities. “Because of the easy compliance and the research base regarding caries prevention (cavities) and sugar-free chewing gums, dental hygienists should feel confident and empowered regarding their recommendation of sugar-free gums,” said Gluch in a her article Sugar-free Chewing Gums and Caries Prevention. Chewing gum for twenty minutes each day can ultimately help prevent tooth decay.
Increased reaction time and alertness
The positive effects of chewing gum don’t simply relate to dental benefits, but to brain activity as well. Chewing gum stimulates the premotor cortex in the brain, which contributes to body movement and reaction. A team of scientists in Japan discovered that chewing gum improves human reaction time by 7 percent or about 36 milliseconds, which is the difference when making a split decision. The study found that eight areas of the brain were stimulated by the chewing motion, including areas known for increasing attentiveness. In addition, chewing gum increases the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain that are responsible for focused attention. In a 2013 study, scientists from the Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology at Cardiff University in Wales, U.K., found that chewing gum increases alertness. Gum chewing not only provides quicker reactions, but it also produces more accurate results when working on problems. Scientists found that due to brain stimulation, intellectual performance was improved when participants chewed gum. The results indicate that chewing gum helps people focus on tasks that occur over a longer amount of time.
Although research on the effects of chewing gum is continuous, the on-going results repeatedly point to more helpful benefits for users. The gum trend has steered towards more convenient usage with newer packaging and, in some instances, celebrity and Olympic athlete endorsements. Vending operators have a chance to provide customers with a product that lasts longer and provides consumer health benefits. Whether operating a vending machine or a micro market, gum could be both a positive and desired product.