Chewing sugar-free gum may help reduce the deterioration of cavities of the teeth, according to a study which analysed research published over the last 50 years on dental caries.
The review, published in the Journal of Dental Research: Clinical & Translational Research, revealed that sugar-free gum could reduce the advancement of dental caries, and may be used as a viable preventative agent, compared to non-chewing control strategies like oral health education and supervising toothbrushing programmes.
The researchers, including those from King's College London in the UK, analysed 12 studies published in the past 50 years that explored the impact and intervention outcome of chewing sugar-free gum on oral health conditions. The study noted that sugar-free gum reduced the risk of deterioration of dental cavities by 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 study lead author Avijit Banerjee from King's College London. However, the researchers said there was a need to update and refresh existing knowledge about sugar-free gum and its effect on oral health.
"We are planning further research to determine the acceptability and feasibility of using this method in public health," Banerjee said. The study said that chewing sugar-free gum has recently 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 added.
He said sugar-free gum can also act as a carrier for antibacterial ingredients such as 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," Banerjee said.