Caries preventive effect of sugar-substituted chewing gum


Dr. Bente Nyvad, Dept. of Operative Dentistry and Endodontics, Royal Dental College, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus University, Vennelyst Boulevard 9, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark


Abstract –Objectives: The aim of this 3-year community intervention trial was to determine the caries preventive effect of sugar-substituted chewing gum among Lithuanian school children, and to assess compliance with the instructions for gum use. Methods: A total of 602 children, aged 9–14 years, from 28 school classes in five secondary schools in Kaunas, Lithuania, were given a baseline clinical and radiographic caries examination. The schools were randomly allocated to receive one of the following interventions: sorbitol/carbamide gum; sorbitol gum; xylitol gum; control gum; and no gum. Children in the four active intervention groups were asked to chew at least five pieces of gum per day, preferably after meals. The children were reexamined clinically after 1, 2 and 3 years, and radiographically after 3 years. Self-reported compliance was monitored anonymously four times during the study. Results: A total of 432 children were available at the 3-year clinical follow-up examination. The crude mean 3-year caries increments (DMFS – all stages of lesion formation) were 11.8 for the sorbitol/carbamide gum group; 9.0 for the sorbitol gum group; 8.1 for the xylitol gum group; 8.3 for the control gum group; and 12.4 for the no gum group. The adjusted 3-year caries increments were statistically significantly lower in the sorbitol gum group, the xylitol gum group and the control gum group than in the no gum group, whereas no statistically significant difference was seen between the no gum group and the sorbitol/carbamide gum group. Adjusted 3-year caries increments in the xylitol gum group and the sorbitol gum group did not differ statistically significantly from the caries increments in the control gum group. Compliance with the study protocol was better in School C (xylitol gum) than in the other schools. In all schools, compliance decreased over time. Conclusion: The results indicate that the caries preventive effect of chewing sugar-free gum is related to the chewing process itself rather than being an effect of gum sweeteners or additives, such as polyols and carbamide.