Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that Big Red -- the popular cinnamon-flavored chewing gum made by Wrigley's -- reduced bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath.
The finding was presented at the recent annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research.
Given that the gum contains cinnamic aldehyde, a plant essential oil used for flavoring, the result was not surprising, said Christine Wu, professor of periodontics and associate dean for research at the UIC College of Dentistry. Wu, who searches for natural antibacterial agents from plant sources that suppress oral pathogens, had tested several plant essential oils and found that they inhibited the growth of bacteria responsible for cavities and periodontal infections.
"In laboratory tests, some of these oils also prevented the growth of three species of oral bacteria associated with bad breath and the production of volatile compounds that cause the unpleasant smell," Wu said.
The laboratory findings and interest from the Wrigley Company in Chicago prompted Wu to launch a clinical trial of the effects of chewing gum on oral bacteria.
In the study, 15 subjects chewed one of three gums for 20 minutes: Big Red, the same gum with natural flavors but no cinnamic aldehyde, or a gum base with neither flavors or oil.
Twenty minutes after the subjects stopped chewing the gum, their saliva was tested and compared with samples collected before chewing began.
Microbiological analysis showed that Big Red reduced by more than 50 percent the concentration of anaerobic bacteria in the saliva. It was particularly effective against anaerobic bacteria residing at the back of the tongue, reducing the population by 43 percent. These bacteria produce volatile sulfur compounds through the putrefaction of proteins and are considered the major contribut
Contact: Sharon Butler
University of Illinois at Chicago