Chewing sugar-free gum could help fight tooth decay © Getty Images

Chewing sugar-free gum could help fight tooth decay

Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can potentially reduce the incidence and growth of dental cavities by up to 28 per cent.

Chewing sugar-free gum could help to reduce the development of dental cavities in adults and children, a review of 12 studies published over the past 50 years carried out by researchers at King’s College London has found.

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The study found that chewing sugar-free gum after meals can potentially reduce the incidence and growth of dental cavities by up to 28 per cent.

“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 researcher Professor Avijit Banerjee. “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.”

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In recent years, chewing sugar-free gum has emerged as a possible supplement to existing prevention strategies such as brushing and flossing in protecting teeth from the development of dental cavities. However, there has been little hard evidence to support these claims.

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“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,” said Prof Banerjee. “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.”