Chewing just one additional piece of sugar-free gum each day could save €3.8bn worldwide on dental expenditures from treating tooth decay, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Dentistry.
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 Organisation.
While tooth decay is largely preventable, it still affects 60-90% of schoolchildren and nearly all adults globally.
The study, a first of its kind globally, was funded by the Wm. Wrigley Jr Company and independently conducted by the Institute of Empirical Health Economics in Germany (IFEG), with input from an international scientific steering committee comprised of thought leaders in dental and public health, and economics. Researchers modelled a potential decrease in dental care costs from tooth decay for 25 industrialised countries.
“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 Prof. Reinhard Rychlik, 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.”
Chewing sugar-free gum increases the production of saliva, which can help wash away food particles and restore optimum plaque pH levels faster. The oral care benefits of chewing sugar-free gum are currently recognised by regulatory bodies, including the European Commission and the FDI World Dental Federation.