Sugar-free gum could provide savings to dental health care costs, said the authors of a February study published in the British Dental Journal.
Researchers from the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry conducted the study.
While the authors emphasized that brushing for two minutes, twice a day is still the best way to keep tooth decay at bay, sugar-free gum can be a cheap, effective addition to families' oral health routines, they said.
"The findings of this study are hugely exciting as they reveal a new and easy way of helping people improve their oral health," said study co-author Dr. Liz Kay, of Plymouth University, in a statement to British journal Medical Xpress. "Clinical evidence has already proved that sugar-free gum can help prevent caries and now we can also see a clear financial advantage."
The study, which focused on 12-year-old girls and boys in the United Kingdom, showed that the National Health Service, the publicly funded health care system for England, could save 8.2 million pounds a year on dental treatments — the equivalent of more than $11.4 million and equal to 364,000 dental check-ups — if all 12-year-old children across the U.K. chewed sugarless gum after eating or drinking.
Researchers noted that a 2013 study showed that 34 percent of 12-year-olds surveyed in the U.K. had obvious decay in their permanent teeth, with other studies indicating that poor oral health habits as a child can lead to poor oral health as an adult.
The study's findings can be accessed at http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-sugar-free-gum-dental-healthcare.html.© American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.