This was a single-center, prospective, cross-sectional study stratified by age and gender with the objective of determining the relationship between gum chewing history, salivary flow, and dental caries severity in adults. We enrolled 191 subjects aged 18-65 years who underwent assessments for gum chewing history, unstimulated salivary flow rate, salivary pH, and caries severity. Unstimulated salivary flow rate tended to decline with increasing age (p = 0.04), and significant differences in unstimulated salivary flow rate were also found for males (0.58 ± 0.32 ml/min) versus females (0.48 ± 0.30 ml/min) (p = 0.02). Weekly gum chewing frequency was greater in younger subjects (p = 0.001) while no age group differences were noted in pieces per day or chewing duration. Gum chewing habits were similar in males and females. A multivariate model demonstrated that only days per week chewing gum (p < 0.001) and gender (p = 0.007) were predictive of unstimulated salivary flow rate (R(2) = 0.40). Mean caries severity scores, assessed via ICDAS II and DMFT, increased with age. In multivariate analysis, age was positively associated with ICDAS (p = 0.001) and days per week chewing gum was negatively associated with ICDAS (p = 0.004), indicating that caries severity increased with age, and that days of chewing provided an inverse effect, with increased days of chewing being associated with decreased severity of caries. Overall, a history of frequent gum chewing is associated with higher unstimulated salivary flow rate and lower caries severity.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.