Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that chewing gum can trap and remove 100 million bacteria from the oral cavity in just 10 minutes.
Five college students were recruited to chew two different standard types of spearmint gum for various lengths of time ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
The gum was spit into a cup filled with sterile water to be analysed. There were about 100 million bacteria detected on each piece of chewed up gum, with the number increasing as chewing time increased.
The gum traps fewer bacteria after 30 seconds of chewing as the gum starts to lose its adhesiveness.
Trapped bacteria were clearly visualised in chewed gum using scanning-electron-microscopy.
Previously done research shows that using a new, clean toothbrush without any toothpaste can remove around 100 million colony-forming units per brush, which would put chewing of gum on par with the mechanical action of a toothbrush.
"Chewing gum however, does not necessarily remove bacteria from the same sites of the dentition as does brushing or flossing, therefore its results may be noticeable on a more long-term than those of brushing or flossing," researchers said.