The NHS could save £8.2 million if 12-year-olds are encouraged to chew sugarfree gum, a new study has concluded.
The study, published in the British Dental Journal, found that if 12-year-olds in the UK were to chew one additional piece of sugarfree gum per day, the NHS would save up to £2.8 million on dental treatments every year, rising to £3.3m if two pieces were chewed per day and £8.2m for three pieces.
‘With the growing strain on the NHS, there is an increasing need to find innovative new ways of helping reduce the burden of oral disease,’ Professor Liz Kay of Peninsula Dental School (Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry) and co-author of the study says.
‘The findings of this study demonstrate a simple but effective way of helping improve their oral health.
‘Crucially, whilst these figures are significant, they refer only to cost reductions for treating 12-year-olds in the UK – if this model was to be applied to the whole population then there is a real potential to create substantial NHS savings.
‘Such savings could then be used, for example, to fund other cost-effective oral health interventions.’
Benefits of sugarfree gum
The BDHF says that chewing sugarfree gum during the day can be extremely effective in breaking down lingering food.
Independent clinical research has shown that chewing sugarfree gum for 20 minutes after eating or drinking helps neutralise the plaque acid attacks that can cause tooth decay and contributes to removing food remains.
The increased flow of saliva caused by chewing gum also promotes the remineralisation of tooth enamel, thus reducing one risk factor for developing tooth decay.
‘The results of this study are hugely exciting and demonstrate the potential role that sugarfree gum can play in preventing dental decay,’ Dr Mike Dodds, lead oral health scientist at Wrigley, who supported the study, comments.
‘Wrigley is committed to supporting the dental community in educating patients and helping improve their oral health through the proven scientific benefits of chewing sugarfree gum.’