Chewing and Chitosan

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Chewing chitosan-containing gum effectively inhibits the growth of cariogenic bacteria

Chitosan inhibits the growth of cariogenic bacteria in vitro. This study was designed to evaluate whether chewing gum, containing chitosan, can effectively suppressed the growth of oral bacteria (total bacteria, total Streptococci, mutans streptococci (MS)) in saliva.


Fifty healthy subjects, ranging in age from 19 to 32 years, were recruited from among the staff and students of Nagasaki University School of Dentistry. For the slab of gum study, the subjects chewed gum for 5 min and then rested for 5 min. Each subject chewed a total of eight pieces of gum, which was either supplemented with or without chitosan, for a total of 80 min. Two different types of gums were examined with at least 1 week as a rest period in between treatments. This in vivo study was carried out by the double blind comparison test.


The amount of oral bacteria was found to significantly decrease in the chitosan group. Especially, the number of MS were maintained at about a 20% level in comparison to that before gum chewing, even at 1 h after gum chewing.


These findings suggest that a supplementation of chitosan to gum is an effective method for controlling the number of cariogenic bacteria in situations where it is difficult to brush one’s teeth, such as when an individual is away from home all day or participating in outdoor training.

Chitosan-loaded gum shows promise

Patients were instructed to chew the chitosan gum for 60 minutes during fasting periods in the morning and the afternoon and to use of sevelamer with meals. The gum was only used during weeks 1 and 2, but sevelamer was used throughout the six weeks. The results of this brief pilot trial showed no significant changes in serum calcium during the six weeks; however, the mean serum phosphorus level declined significantly from week 0 to 2 (from 7.60 to 5.25 mg/dL).

Additionally, serum phosphorus did not return to baseline levels until week 6 (7.55 mg/dL).  This new gum shows great initial promise. If further research confirms the safety and efficacy of the chitosan gum, dialysis patients would have an inexpensive means to control phosphorus nonsystemically and which does not contribute to their daily burden. This could greatly impact their quality of life and the risk of death.