Potential Benefits of Sugar-Free Chewing Gum



A study by Dr. M. Al-Ha­boubi et al, published in Commun­ity Dentistry and Oral Epi­demiology, investigated the effects of prescribing sugar-free chewing gum on the oral health and quality of life of dentate older people living in the community and attending for routine dental care. The randomized controlled trial in­volved 186 people, aged 60 years and older, with 6 or more teeth, who were not regular chewers of gum. Participants were randomly allocated to a gum-chewing group (chewing xylitol-containing gum twice a day for 15 min; n = 95) or a control group (no gum; n = 91). Both groups were examined at baseline and at the end of the study 6 months later. The primary outcome measure for the study was in­creased stimulated saliva flow rate. Secon­dary measures included im­prove­ments in plaque and gingi­val indices, and self-perceived change in oral health. The retention rate for the study was 78.5% (n = 146 at follow-up); reported compliance with the protocol was 84% (ranged between 12% and 100%). The study found that there was no significant change in the saliva flow of the gum-chewing group (1.20 to 1.17 mL/min), while the control group experienced an increase in flow rate (1.06 to 1.32 mL/min; P = .001). The gum-chewing group, however, demonstrated significant im­prove­ment in plaque and gin­gival index scores over the control group. In addition, a significantly higher proportion of participants in the gum-chewing group perceived that their oral health had improved during the study period in comparison with the control group.

The authors conclude that prescription of sugar-free chew­­ing gum to den­tate older people living in the community and attending routine dental services was not associated with a significant in­crease in stimulated saliva flow. There were, how­ever, sig­nificant improve­ments in plaque and gin­gival index scores, and in self-perceived oral health.

(Source: Al-Ha­boubi M, et al. The po­tential benefits of sugar-free chew­ing gum on the oral health and quality of life of older people living in the com­munity: a randomized con­trolled trial. Community Dentistry and Oral Epide­miology, April 26, 2012; doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528. 2012.00685.x, [Epub ahead of print] 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S)