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Oral health: household solutions for long-term benefits

As continuous lockdowns all over Europe require consumers to spend more time at home than ever before, many of them fall victim to complacency about exercise, and struggle to find focus in a working-from-home environment. Countless articles have already outlined tips for staying healthy while working in home offices. That said, there is a health tip consumers underestimate, and that is easier to put in practice than installing a Peloton next to your office desk: sugar-free gum.

The effects of sugar-free gum (SFG) have been analysed for a long time already. A 2011 study found that chewing gum reduces the desire for snacks by 10%, which makes a significant dent in cravings for those foods that are unhealthy. On top of the widely known added benefit of preventing tooth decay between regular dental hygiene, it has also been shown that chewing gum leads to increased cognitive performance and productivity. Given that consumers, as much as many others, currently spend their days on Zoom calls, chained to our desks, sugar-free gum has been one of many practical solutions that can help us snack less and be more focused. Sugar-free gum has also been mentioned as a tool for keeping anxiety induced by isolation during lockdowns at bay, and is prescribed by surgeons for post-surgery recovery.

Outside of the effect of staying more focused and not stuffing yourself with crisps, sugar-free gum also has benefits in the realm of oral hygiene and dental care. A recent King’s College London review analysed eight papers on the matter, in the attempt to answer the question: “What is the difference in the level of plaque quantity, in adults and children who chew sugar-free gum (SFG), compared with those who do not chew SFG, who do not chew gum or who use alternatives such as probiotics or fluoride varnish?” The review, published in a special edition of Frontiers in Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry, found evidence that SFG reduces dental caries. 2021 research data has previously indicated that Streptococcus mutans, which are a significant contributor to tooth decay, are reduced by chewing.

These evidence indicators have led the UK’s National Health Service1 to address SFG in its guidance on oral health. As evidence becomes more conclusive on the benefits of SFG, consumers should look out for the product as more than just a sugar-free candy replacement, but more as a practical health addition. This could have benefits not merely for individual oral health, but also to overall public health: research published in the British Dental Journal (BDJ) has shown that if 12-year-olds across the UK regularly chewed sugar-free gum after eating or drinking, it could save the NHS £8.2 million, the equivalent of 364,000 dental check-ups.


  1. specifically the Department of Health and Social Care, the Welsh Government, the Department of Health Northern Ireland, Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement and with the support of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry.

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