Gum chewers hoping their habit will protect them from dental plaque and tooth decay would do better sticking to brushing as scientists reveal the preventative effects of sugar-free gum may have been overstated.
Sugar-free gum has been a favourite among consumers looking for a health-conscious choice and many manufacturers have responded by marketing increasingly more functional varieties of the confectionery.
Generally perceived as a low-calorie indulgence, the gum often promises additional benefits - the most common of which being dental health due to the presence of additives thought to enhance the mouth's natural plaque-fighting defences.
But results from a study by researchers at the University of Palermo, Italy show sugar-free gum has a minimal effect on dental health and its action on plaque is less effective than previously thought.
How the study was done
Researchers asked 12 volunteers, aged between 21 and 28 years, to chew one piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after dinner, four times a day for four days.
During the four-day test period, participants continued with their normal dietary habits but were forbidden from using mouthwashes or other gums. In addition, the volunteers did not eat or drink for an hour after chewing.
The sugar-free gums contained lactoperoxidase, micro-granules of silicon dioxide and zinc gluconate - ingredients believed to act against plaque.
Little significant improvement was noted in antiplaque activity, leading the researchers to conclude the gum did not prevent plaque growth on the smooth surfaces of the teeth. - (Decision News Media, April 2007)
Oral Health Centre
The sweet thing about this sugar