Chewing sugar-free gum could help reduce the further development of caries in adults and children, according to researchers at the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences at King’s College London.
A recent review found some evidence that chewing sugar-free gum can reduce the advance of caries and could be used as a viable preventive agent, compared to non-chewing control methods such as oral health education and supervising toothbrushing programs alone.
The review analyzed studies published over the last 50 years, identifying 12 that explored the impact and intervention outcome of chewing sugar-free gum on oral health conditions and, in particular, on caries in adults and children. Sugar-free gum was found to reduce caries increment, giving it a preventive factor of 28%.
“There is a considerable degree of variability in the effect from the published data and the trials included were generally of moderate quality,” said lead author Avijit Banerjee, BDS, MSc, PhD, professor of cariology and operative dentistry at King’s College London.
“However, we felt there was a definite need to update and refresh existing knowledge about sugar-free gum and its effect on dental caries and oral health. We are planning further research to determine the acceptability and feasibility of using this method in public health,” said Banerjee.
Chewing sugar-free gum has emerged as a possible supplement to existing prevention strategies in stopping the development of dental caries.
“Both the stimulation of saliva, which can act as a natural barrier to protect teeth, and the mechanical plaque control that results from the act of chewing can contribute to the prevention of dental caries,” Banerjee said. “Sugar-free gum can also act as a carrier for antibacterial ingredients including xylitol and sorbitol,” said Banerjee.
“No recent conclusive evidence existed prior to this review that showed the relationship between slowing the development of caries and chewing sugar-free gum,” said Banerjee.
Supported by a grant from Mars Wrigley and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare program, the study was published by the Journal of Dental Research: Clinical & Translational Research.