Chewing gum has been found to remove harmful bacteria from mouths, according to a study.

Researchers found that just a single piece of chewing gum can remove 100 million bacteria – 10 per cent of the microbial load in saliva – in ten minutes.

And they say that gum can be just as effective as flossing – although they each targets different areas of the mouth.

The study, which appeared in the journal Plos One, was led by researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

They found that the gum was most effective in the first 30 seconds of chewing, and after that it would become less effective in trapping bacteria on a sliding scale.

Also, they note that only gum that did not contain sugar was useful; if it did contain sugar, it could ‘feed’ oral bacteria.

’Continued chewing changes the structure of the gums, decreasing the hardness of the gum due to uptake of salivary components and release of water soluble components,’ they write.

‘This presumably affects the adhesion of bacteria to the gum, causing a release of initially trapped, more weakly adhering bacteria from the gum.

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