Chewing sugar-free gum may slow tooth decay, study finds

LONDON — Chewing gum may actually be good for your oral health. That is, if you’re chewing sugar-free gum. That’s the main finding from a new study conducted at King’s College London, and it’s sure to delight gum enthusiasts the world over. According to the research team, sugar-free gum may slow the development of tooth decay in both adults and children.

Furthermore, in comparison to other strategies, such as oral health education and supervised toothbrushing programs, the study’s authors say their findings indicate that sugar-free gum can be used as an effective preventative measure against cavities.

For the study, a great deal of research published over the past 50 years was analyzed, including 12 prior studies that focused on the effect of sugar-free gum on the dental health of both adults and children. After finishing their analysis, researchers concluded that sugar-free gum impedes the development of cavities, even giving it a preventative factor rating 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”, explains lead author Professor Avijit Banerjee, Professor of Cariology & Operative Dentistry at King’s College London, in a release. “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.”

Over the past few years, sugar-free gum has already started to become more accepted by the dental community as a legitimate oral health aid and weapon in the fight against cavities. These findings will only strengthen that view point.

“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. Sugar-free gum can also act as a carrier for antibacterial ingredients including xylitol and sorbitol. No recent conclusive evidence existed prior to this review that showed the relationship between slowing the development of caries and chewing sugar-free gum,” Professor Banerjee adds.

The study is published in the Journal of Dental Research: Clinical & Translational Research.