The Mayans Used a Natural Gum for Oral Health
Chicle is a natural gum harvested from the sapodilla tree and has a long history of use in various cultures. One of the most famous uses of chicle was by the ancient Mayans. They chewed it for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Mayans believed that chewing chicle could help alleviate hunger during long periods of work or travel. They believed it could also help freshen breath and clean teeth.
Consequently, the practice of chewing chicle was so widespread that it became a part of Mayan culture, and many other Mesoamerican societies also adopted the practice. Eventually, chicle was exported to Europe and North America, where it was used as a base for chewing gum. Chicle is still harvested in some parts of Central America.