Here’s the key graphic as discussed in my lecture for Colgate. Click the image to view full size.
Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? But this is the latest research finding from the York Health Economics Consortium and Peninsula Dental School, University of Plymouth. The simple act of chewing sugar free gum after eating or drinking helps to prevent tooth decay. And this can potentially save the NHS a small fortune every year.
Now I’ll make no bones about the fact that I’ve worked with the sponsors of the research, Wrigley, for a number of years, and act as an ambassador for the company. But I’m as sceptical as the next dentist when such figures are put out there. Being in such a position though, means that I was able to have an early look at the research document. And now it has been published in the British Dental Journal
Essentially, the health economic study focused on 12-year olds. This is a crucial age for the development both of adult teeth and good oral health routines. The statistics highlights the fact that 35% of 12-year olds are embarrassed to smile or laugh! Why, because of the condition of their teeth. That is a shameful figure in this day and age.
But by chewing three pieces of sugar free gum a day – one after every meal – the number of NHS dental treatments in this age group could be substantially reduced, saving up to £8.2 million a year. Multiply that across a patients’ lifetime, and you can see the overall savings could potentially be huge!
As any dentist will tell you, the best way to keep your teeth clean and healthy is to brush twice a day for two minutes. Personally though, I’ve felt for some time that sugar-free gum also has a big part to play.
The evidence has been mounting, and from different sources.
The British Dental Health Foundation recommends it. it says that it’s very effective at getting rid of lingering food, neutralising plaque acids and reducing the risk of decay. It’s long been known that chewing gum encourages saliva production. This washes away food particles and helps ‘re-mineralise’ the tooth enamel. And the European Commission recently approved five oral health claims for sugar free gum, the benefits of which are recognised by the World Dental Federation.
Now this latest study further confirms the role of sugar-free gum in helping us all combat tooth decay, and with such headline-grabbing savings I hope it gets the attention it deserves. I for one will be promoting it at every opportunity. Not to mention getting my family into the habit of chewing sugar free gum after every meal.