The total global costs associated with dental diseases amounted to a staggering $442 billion per year in 2015. And according to researchers, 60% of dental service costs around the world are related to tooth decay, while 60% of all children and 90% of all adults have tooth decay.

So if you knew of a simple, inexpensive way to reduce tooth decay, wouldn’t you try it?

Well, here you go:

A study published in the American Journal of Dentistry last month revealed that if current consumers of sugar-free chewing gum increase their consumption by just one piece per day, $4.1 billion could be saved worldwide on dental expenditures from treating tooth decay each year. The study, conducted by the Institute of Empirical Health Economics (IEHE), showed that these savings would include $2.07 billion in the United States, $1.1 billion in Europe, and $149 million in China.

That’s a LOT of savings for just a little investment.

It is a well-established fact in the dental community that chewing sugar-free gum increases salivary flow, which helps to remove food debris that can be left on your teeth after eating, while also neutralizing and rinsing away the acids that are formed when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque. Removing that acid is essential, as it can break down tooth enamel, leaving them more vulnerable to decay. In addition, the increase in saliva also provides more calcium and phosphate to protect your enamel.

According to the ADA, chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

Of course, even sugar-free gum is not a replacement for good old-fashioned brushing and flossing. The ADA still recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interproximal dental cleaners. But adding sugar-free gum to your daily regimen between brushings is a great way to slow down the decay process.

So if you’re looking for ways to cut your dental health costs, pick up a pack or two of sugar-free gum to use during the day. Make sure and look for the ADA Seal though. It’s your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and efficacy by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.

You can read more about the study here.

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