A piece of research in 2016 revealed that the NHS could save up to £8.2 million a year if all twelve year olds in the UK were to increase their chewing of sugar-free gum. Chewing just one additional piece of sugar-free gum each day could save £3.3 billion worldwide on dental expenditures from treating tooth decay. While tooth decay is largely preventable, it still affects 60-90% of schoolchildren and nearly all adults globally.
Conducted by the York Health Economics Consortium and Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University, with funding from Wrigley, the study was an initial exploration into the potential cost savings that chewing of sugar-free gum could bring. Blyton Dental tend to agree, so we recommend to our patients to chew sugar-free gum in order to:
1. Protect Teeth
Chewing a sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after meals, is proven to reduce plaque, promote tooth enamel, reduce cavities, and reduce gingivitis. This is because it increases the flow of saliva, literally washing away food particles and the acid on your teeth that causes decay. Just make sure your gum is sugarless, as sugar-containing gums can actually add to acid build-up. Look for gums with xylitol too, which can reduce decay-causing bacteria.
"If all 12 year olds in the UK chewed 1 piece of gum...
It could save the NHS £8.2million a year."
2. Improve Breath
It's a no-brainer to pop in some gum when you want to fight bad breath, as it can help to restore optimum plaque pH levels faster. Some are better than others though, researchers found that Wrigley's Big Red, a well-known cinnamon-flavoured gum with a plant essential oil for flavouring, reduced bacteria in the mouth most effectively.
3. Improve Eating Habits
While chewing sugar-free gum won't automatically melt pounds, popping some low-calorie sticks can help you to eat better. Chewing gum can be a good distraction from food cravings and help you to consume less. Especially, if you chew gum instead of reaching for a calorific sweet snack between meals you’ll be exposing your teeth to less unnecessary sugar. Also, popping some gum right at the end of a meal, while watching TV, or when other mindless nibbling occurs, can save calories and cavities.
4. Help Cigarette Smokers Quit
Even as a non-smoker, I know that gum is no magic bullet to quitting smoking, but products, such as nicotine gum, aim to help. Any gum that helps you reduce and quit smoking is good news for your teeth and oral health. Smoking significantly increases oral cancer.
5. Relieve Dry Mouth
Yet another oral health benefit of chewing sugar-free gum includes combating dry mouth. It's been noted that chewing sugarless gum stimulates saliva up to 10 times the resting rate. This is a huge help in reversing oral dryness and the discomfort and problems associated with dry mouth. Less saliva results in higher acidity in the mouth and therefore higher rates of cavities.
Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation commented on the new research: "The findings of the 2016 UK pilot study had demonstrated that sugar-free gum is a simple, but effective way of improving your oral health. The numbers for the UK alone were significant and showed us that there is real potential to create substantial savings which would relieve the growing pressure on our healthcare system. Seeing these results at a global level is hugely exciting, and we hope the research will encourage dental professionals to communicate the potential role that sugar-free gum can play in preventing dental decay as part of a good oral care regime."
1. Rychlik R, Kreimendahl F, Blaich C et al (2017). A global approach to assess the economic benefits of increased consumption of sugar-free chewing gum. Am J Dent, in press.
2. World Health Organisation. Oral Health Disease Burden. Last Accessed August 2016. Available at: www.who.int/oral_health/disease_burden/global/en/
3. EFSA (2010) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to sugarfree chewing gum and reduction of tooth demineralisation which reduces the risk of dental caries pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/scientific_output/files/main_documents/1775.pdf. Last accessed: October 2015
4. Health Canada. Summary of Health Canada's assessment of a health claim about sugarfree chewing gum and dental caries risk reduction. Available at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/gum-gomme-dental-carie-dentaireeng.php Last accessed December 2016.