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Chewing gum improves concentration

Chewing a piece of sugarless gum after lunch can not only help you protect your dental health, but also help focus to avoid that afternoon slump in productivity, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, evaluated the concentration of 38 participants who were given a short-term audio memory test.

Half the participants were instructed to chew gum during the 30-minute test. All of them listened to a list of numbers from 1-9 being read in random order and were scored on how accurately and quickly they were able to detect a sequence of odd-even-odd numbers. Participants also completed questionnaires on their mood before and after the test.

Researchers found that participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results, especially during the later part of the test.

“It’s been well established by previous research that chewing gum can benefit some areas of cognition,” said Kate Morgan, the study’s lead author.” In our study we focused on an audio task that involved short-term memory recall to see if chewing gum would improve concentration; especially in the latter stages of the task.Interestingly, participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end. This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.”

According to MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website,clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

Chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel.

Only sugarless gums have the ADA Seal, and are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol. Of course, chewing sugar-containing gum increases saliva flow too, but it also contains sugar, which is used by plaque bacteria to produce decay-causing acids. Further research needs to be done to determine the effects of chewing sugar-containing gum on tooth decay.

Don’t let chewing sugarless gum replace brushing and flossing. It’s not a substitute. The ADA still recommends brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interdental cleaners.

Look for chewing gum that carries the ADA Seal. The ADA Seal is your assurance that the sugar-free chewing gum has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. You can trust that claims made on packaging and labeling for ADA-accepted products are true, because companies must verify all of the information to the ADA.

Visit MouthHealthy.org to see and compare a list of sugar-free chewing gums that have the ADA Seal.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

07/24/2013

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