February 23, 2024

Question for your information – Why does gum stick to your hair and not to your teeth?

Gum in all colors and shapes. Some people chew gum every day, others prefer to avoid colored mouth fresheners.

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shutterstock/pixel snapshot

HIn an unpleasant feeling that some are certainly familiar with: you grab your hair and notice that a piece of gum is stuck in it. Scientist Andreas Ehrmann, who conducts research at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria (ISTA), explains why gum sticks to our hair and not our teeth.

You can chew a piece of gum for hours without it losing its shape. This is mainly due to the elastic, water-insoluble chewing mass, which also contains sugar, sweeteners, laxatives, flavors and colorings. Chewing material is composed of polymers, which are a chain-like or branched chain of individual molecular building blocks (monomers). This “rubber net” is also the reason why gum sticks to dry surfaces and, for example, gets stuck to shoes, under school desks, or in your hair.

Andreas Ermann

Andreas Ehrmann investigates biological systems that he attempts to describe using physical models.

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However, the gum does not stick to your teeth. This is due to the moist environment in the mouth. When chewing gum, the salivary glands are activated and saliva production increases. As a result, the teeth are also covered with saliva and do not provide any opportunity for the chewing material to stick. However, water-soluble substances can easily mix with saliva and enter the bloodstream.