The European Commission (EC) has approved five oral health claims for sugarfree chewing gum, one of the few food categories to gain such recognition (EFSA, 2010).
EC claims include three claims for general function (neutralisation of plaque acids, maintenance of tooth mineralisation, reduction of oral dryness) and two claims for disease risk reduction related to dental caries (neutralisation of plaque acids, reduction of tooth demineralisation).
Chewing sugarfree gum promotes the production of saliva, the natural protection mechanism of the mouth.
It stimulates the salivary glands to produce a strong flow of stimulated saliva, a 10- to 12-fold increase over resting saliva rates during peak stimulation.
Stimulated saliva enhances the mouth’s natural ability to fight dental disease by neutralising plaque acids, and supporting tooth remineralisation (Dawes and Macpherson, 1992; Hein, Soparkar and Quigley, 1961; Leach, Lee and Edgar, 1989).
Furthermore, new research published in the British Dental Journal showed that significant NHS cost savings could be made if more people chewed sugarfree gum after eating or drinking (Claxton, Taylor and Kay, 2016), thanks to the role it plays in helping to prevent tooth decay.
EFSA (2010) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to sugar-free chewing gum and reduction of tooth demineralisation which reduces the risk of dental caries pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 EFSA Journal 8(10): 1775
Dawes C and Macpherson LM (1992) Effects of nine different chewing-gums and lozenges on salivary flow rate and pH. Caries Res 26: 176-82
Hein JW, Soparkar PM and Quigley GA (1961) Changes in plaque pH following gum chewing and tooth brushing. J Dent Res 40: 753-4
Leach SA, Lee GT and Edgar WM (1989) Remineralization of artificial caries-like lesions in human enamel in situ by chewing sorbitol gum. J Dent Res 68: 1064-8
Claxton L, Taylor M and Kay E (2016) Oral Health Promotion: The Economic Benefits of Sugarfree Gum in the UK. BDJ 220(3)