Gum Increases Focus

It’s minute 45 of first period. You are struggling to keep your head up, opening your eyes every few seconds. Across the room, your classmate looks wide-eyed at the teacher, staying engaged and alert while smacking her Juicy Fruit gum— sugar-free, of course.

A boring teacher is never ideal, but these sleep-deprivation struggles could be prevented for just around two dollars.

While classrooms used to prohibit gum chewing, new research shows that chewing while studying or during class can improve attention, memory and dental health.

Junior Ellie Johnson said that she always chews gum in the morning because it wakes her up and keeps her focused. “I am never without gum in my locker,” Johnson said.

In 2013, The British Journal of Psychology conducted a survey in which two groups of people listened to a 30-minute recording of number sequences, one with chewing gum, one without. The gum group performed with flying colors, maintaining longer focus and higher accuracy.

Freshman Eliza Parker, a steadfast gum chewer and vigorous dental hygienist said she chews a piece of gum before and after she brushes her teeth.

Local dentist Dr. Jina Kaiser said, “Sugar-free gum can increase salivary flow, which can help to decrease [tooth decaying] rates.” Backing up Kaiser’s statement, the American Dental Association claims that gum washes away acid from broken-down food, which eliminates bacteria and plaque buildup.

Alejandra Suarez, Upper School Spanish teacher, said she only makes people spit out gum if it distracts the class. And although gum can distract the class if it is not handled properly, Suarez believes it improves focus and relieves stress during tests.

However, there are still teachers who reject gum entirely. Mr. Leon de Oliveira, Upper School physics teacher, thinks “chewing gum is personally just gross and [he] particularly doesn’t enjoy watching people chew it.”

Echoing Oliveira, “it is not appropriate because it presents a lack of respect,” Kaiser said.

Although some teachers find gum repulsive or disrespectful, other teachers see the good in gum.

“As long as I know my teachers are okay with it, I will always chew gum,” Parker said. “Even if that means five wrappers a day.

– Emily Fuller