Preventive dentistry is the call of our profession.
Independent research supported by Wrigley funding has continued to have an impact on the oral care arena for nearly 90 years. Through a fellowship with Northwestern University in the United States in the 1930s, researchers discovered the dental health benefits of chewing gum and continued to explore that relationship in the following decades. In the 1980s, groundbreaking research proved that chewing gum helps stimulate saliva production, a key element in reducing harmful plaque acids. In the 1990s Wrigley also supported research that validated the role sugarfree chewing gum can play in caries reduction.
In recent years the FDI World Dental Federation and more than 20 national dental or dental health associations have recognized the strength of the scientific evidence which supports chewing sugarfree gum, and the FDI has granted the use of its logo on Wrigley packs. And in 2009, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved claims that sugar-free chewing gum can help neutralize plaque acids, remineralize tooth enamel and reduce oral dryness. In 2017, Wrigley funded research is published in the American Journal of Dentistry, indicating that chewing one additional piece of sugar-free gum a day, as part of a complete oral hygiene routine, could lead to significant savings in dental care costs worldwide. In 2019, a systematic review and meta-analysis funded by Wrigley showed that the use of sugar-free gum may contribute to prevention and control of dental caries in children with a prevented fraction (PF) of 28%, and in 2021, a separate systematic review showed that chewing xylitol containing sugar-free gum reduces the load of Mutans Streptococci in the oral cavity in comparison to non-chewing controls.
The oral care benefits of chewing sugar-free gum
Clinical studies have shown that chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands to produce a strong flow of saliva.1 Chewing gum is a unique food because it is chewed for a prolonged period (often around 20 minutes), while at the same time it contributes relatively few calories. Chewing sugar-free gum enhances production of saliva and its oral health benefits, namely: clearing the mouth of food debris and sugars, neutralizing acids, and supporting remineralization. Research shows that people who regularly chew sugar-free gum develop significantly fewer cavities than those who do not.2
Sugar-free chewing gum in oral health: A Clinical Overview
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1 Dawes C, Macpherson LM. Effects of nine different chewing gums and lozenges on salivary flow rate and pH. Caries Res. 1992;26:176–82.
2 Newton JT et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Role of Sugar-Free Chewing Gum in Dental Caries. JDR Clin Trans Res. 2020 Jul;5(3):214-223.
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.