The Latest From WOHP
Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program calls on parents to be oral health role models this World Oral Health Day
20 March 2022
Since we helped FDI World Dental Federation launch the first World Oral Health Day in 2013, the WOHP has celebrated this key opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health and its significance in safeguarding general health and wellbeing. This year, FDI’s theme was ‘Be Proud of your Mouth for your happiness and wellbeing’, with oral health champions around the world taking part to emphasize that an unhealthy mouth can severely impact every aspect of life such as emotional, social, mental, and overall physical wellbeing.
Our campaign in 2022 focused on how we can reverse declining oral health habits. Research shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, toothbrushing twice-a-day decreased among both parents and children, with the drop particularly noticeable in children. One in four children failed to brush twice a day[i] and fewer children had a dental exam in 2020 compared to 2019[ii]. With tooth decay currently affecting 60-90% of schoolchildren[iii], this year’s campaign encouraged parents to be oral care role models to their kids and suggested ways to make brushing more fun! Ideas included making brushing part of a family routine, turning brushing into a game, and rewarding good brushing with a piece of sugar-free gum. Chewing sugar-free gum helps prevent tooth decay by increasing the production of saliva – the body’s natural defense system for mouth and teeth. The benefits of chewing are recognized by regulatory bodies, governments, and dental associations around the world.
To learn more about World Oral Health Day, please click here.
[i] Unilever Oral care brands’ Global Research Summary Report 2021: Attitudes, Behaviours and Experiences of Oral Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic was conducted in November-December 2020 with 6,734 parents in 8 countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ghana, and Vietnam.
[ii] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. National Health Interview Survey 2020-21. US population.
[iii] World Health Organization.
Research by King’s College London shows that chewing sugar-free gum reduces the load of Streptococcus mutans in the oral cavity
29 April 2021
Scientists from King’s College London have conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials with adults and children. The review found that chewing sugar-free gum reduces the load of Streptococci mutans in the oral cavity.
Preventive strategies targeting Streptococcus mutans may be effective in reducing the global burden of caries. The aim of the systematic review was to determine the difference in level of Streptococcus mutans in adults and children who chew sugar-free gum, compared with those who did not chew gum, who chewed a control gum or received alternatives such as probiotics or fluoride varnish.
Thirteen studies of sugar-free gum with micro-organisms as outcomes were identified. The use of sugar-free gum significantly reduced the load of Streptococcus mutans compared to all controls. In seven of the 13 studies the confidence intervals of the effect size estimate included zero, suggesting no effect of the intervention. Twelve trials used xylitol gum only as the basis of the intervention; xylitol gum significantly reduced the load of Streptococcus mutans in comparison to all controls.
The study concluded that chewing sugar-free gum reduces the load of Streptococcus mutans in the oral cavity in comparison to non-chewing controls. Considering the degree of variability in the effect and the moderate quality of the trials included, there is a need for future research exploring the use sugar-free gum as a preventive measure for reducing the cariogenic oral bacterial load.
This research was made possible with support from the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program.
Research by King’s College London finds that people who chew sugar-free gum develop significantly less caries
19 November 2019
Scientists at the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences at King’s College London have published an article on the key outcomes of a systematic review and meta-analysis on the role of sugar-free chewing gum in dental caries. Published in the journal JDR Clinical and Translational Research, the systematic review shows that people who regularly chewed sugar free gum developed 28% less caries than those who did not.
The systematic review also found evidence that the impact of chewing sugar-free on the development of dental caries compares favorably to other preventative oral care interventions such as using fluoride toothpastes, using fluoride supplements, oral health education, and supervised tooth brushing.
This is the most robust systematic review on the topic conducted to date.
This research was made possible with support from the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program.
Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program attends World Dental Congress in San Francisco
8 September 2019
The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program participated in the 2019 World Dental Congress in September. The Congress was co-hosted by the World Dental Federation (FDI) and the American Dental Association (ADA), and gathered over 30,000 dental professionals and industry leaders to advance the science and practice of oral health through a scientific program and trade exhibition.
At the congress, WOHP organized a scientific symposium on the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum on oral health, with presentations by Mike Dodds, Lead Oral Health Scientist at Mars Wrigley, and by two researchers from the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences at Kings College London. With around 300 participants, this symposium was the first external discussion of the results of a systematic review carried out by KCL – and sponsored by WOHP – that confirms the efficacy of sugar-free gum in maintaining oral health.
New study suggests chewing one additional piece of sugar-free gum per day could reduce global dental expenditures from treating tooth decay by $4.1 billion a year
11 April 2017
World-first data published in the American Journal of Dentistry builds on evidence to support the benefits of sugar-free gum in oral care
Increasing consumption of sugar-free chewing gum by just one piece per day could save billions of dollars worldwide on dental expenditures from treating tooth decay, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Dentistry.1 The data is significant given tooth decay and oral diseases rank fourth among the most expensive global health conditions to treat, according to the World Health Organization.2 While tooth decay is largely preventable, it still affects 60-90% of schoolchildren and nearly all adults globally.2
The first-of-its-kind global study suggests that if current consumers of sugar-fee gum increase their consumption by just one extra piece per day as part of a complete oral hygiene routine, global dental expenditures from treating tooth decay could be reduced by US$4.1 billion a year.1 The data provides new insights that build on the extensive body of evidence supporting the benefits of chewing sugar-free gum in oral care.
The study was funded by Wrigley and conducted by specialist health economics research group, the Institute of Empirical Health Economics (IfEG), with input from an international scientific steering committee comprised of thought-leaders in dental and public health and economics.
“The study represents a solid and substantial approach to the accurate calculation of cost savings in industrial countries that would arise from increasing sugar-free gum consumption,” said Professor Reinhard Rychlik, MA MD, PhD, PhD, Director of the IfEG and the study’s lead author. “Chewing sugar-free gum as a preventive measure for tooth decay has the potential to deliver significant dental care cost savings worldwide.”
Potential cost savings reach $2.07 billion a year in the U.S., representing nearly 3 percent of expenditures on treating tooth decay. Comparatively, potential cost savings could reach $1.1 billion a year in Europe and $149 million a year in China.1
“In addition to the well-established clinical benefits, for the first time, this study models the reduction in the relative risk of tooth decay and subsequent cost savings for dental care as a result of increased consumption of sugar-free gum as part of a complete oral hygiene routine. While further studies are needed, these are exciting new insights which add to the extensive body of evidence on the benefits of sugar-free gum in oral care.” said Michael Dodds, BDS, PhD., Wrigley’s lead oral health scientist.
Recognized Oral Health Benefits of Sugar-free Gum
Global rates of tooth decay continue to present a major public health concern – nearly all adults experience tooth decay2 – suggesting that new preventive strategies may be required to supplement existing measures in reducing the risk of tooth decay and improving oral health. The oral care benefits of chewing sugar-free gum are widely recognized and supported by various regulatory and governmental authorities,3,4 FDI World Dental Federation and nearly 20 national dental associations around the world. The growing body of evidence could support the inclusion of sugar-free gum in national oral healthcare advice, alongside other proven oral hygiene behaviours in future.
- 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.
- World Health Organization. Oral Health Disease Burden. Last Accessed August 2016. Available at: www.who.int/oral_health/disease_burden/global/en/
- EFSA (2010) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to sugar-free chewing gum and reduction of tooth demineralization 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
- Health Canada. Summary of Health Canada’s assessment of a health claim about sugar-free 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.
The latest research on sugar-free gum
Two recent systematic reviews published by King’s College have concluded that the regular use of polyol combination chewing gum leads to a reduction in dental caries and is an effective addition to oral health regimens.