Background: The authors conducted a systematic review of original studies that was designed to assess the impact of polyol-containing chewing gum on dental caries compared with the effect with no chewing gum.
Review methods: The authors searched MEDLINE, The Cochrane Library and Google Scholar up to May 2008 to identify peer-reviewed articles that compared polyol-containing chewing gum with no chewing gum. The authors extracted study characteristics, data on incremental dental caries and quality by consensus. Data on prevented fraction (PF) were pooled across studies.
Results: The results of 19 articles with data from 14 study populations showed that the use of xylitol, xylitol-sorbitol blend and sorbitol were associated with mean PF (95 percent confidence interval) of 58.66 percent (35.42-81.90), 52.82 percent (39.64-66.00) and 20.01 percent (12.74-27.27), respectively. For the sorbitol-mannitol blend, it was 10.71 percent (-20.50-41.93), which was not statistically significant. Sensitivity analyses confirmed the robustness of the findings.
Clinical implications: Although research gaps exist, particularly on optimal dosing and relative polyol efficacy, research evidence supports using polyol-containing chewing gum as part of normal oral hygiene to prevent dental caries.