While many consider cavities to be minor issues; in reality, they have the ability to promote serious problems. Besides causing tooth sensitivity, cavities can lead to tooth decay and bacterial infections that can result in costly restorative treatments and even tooth loss. To reduce the risk of cavities, it’s important to brush and floss on a consistent basis. Research suggests that sugarless chewing gum may also help prevent cavities; however, a new study indicates the reasons aren’t what many thought.
How it Doesn’t
For over a decade, chewing gum manufacturers have argued that their sugarless products have the ability to reduce the likelihood of cavities. Several studies appear to support these claims, with some suggesting the artificial sweetener xylitol may be responsible for giving sugarless gum its cavity-fighting power. That said, new research seems to show that this isn’t the case at all.
Appearing in The Journal of the American Dental Association, the research included approximately 700 participants. For more than three years, half the subjects enjoyed xylitol-sweetened lozenges five times every day, while the other half consumed placebo lozenges instead. Ultimately, the study revealed no differences between each group, indicating that xylitol alone provides no actual cavity protection.
How it Does
According to the study’s researchers, their results indicate that sugarless gum offers indirect cavity protection by promoting the act of chewing. These revelations make sense, since chewing helps to promote saliva production which rinses our teeth and helps prevent plaque formation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about one in five Americans has untreated cavities. This shocking statistic indicates that a huge portion of the American population fails to get consistent dental check-ups, which would recognize these issues before they turn into expensive, painful problems.