Healthy Gums Through Cheese and Milk

Healthy Gums Through Cheese and Milk (Source: IDA Times)

A study from Japan has revealed that routine intake of dairy products may help promote periodontal health. The study analyzed the periodontal health of 942 subjects and determined that those who regularly consumed milk, cheese or yogurt had a lower instance of gum disease. Participants aged 40 through 79 were examined on periodontal pocket depth (PD) and clinical attachment loss (CAL) of gum tissue. Researchers observed that subjects consuming 55 or more grams of products containing lactic acid each day had a significantly lower prevalence of deep PD and severe CAL, therefore demonstrating a lower instance of periodontal disease.

Periodontal or gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults and has been connected to the development of heart disease and increased risk of strokes. It can also contribute to permanent medical conditions, such as diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis.

“Research has suggested that periodontal disease may affect overall systematic health,” said study author Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki of the Kyushu University in Fukuoka. “This study reinforces what much of the public already knows – the importance of dairy in helping to achieve a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy mouth.”

Oral Health Care Through Sugar Free Chewing Gums (Source: IDA Times– June 2006)

Dental caries has been identified by health authorities of numerous countries as a significant public health problem.

Oral care for many is limited to brushing teeth twice a day. But often this is not enough. Studies across the globe recommend the practice of the following oral hygiene rules –
1) To brush your teeth twice a day with fluorinated toothpaste for at least 3-4     minutes.
2) To clean between the teeth (using dental floss)
3) To have periodic dental check up.

An oral health care regimen can now also include the use of sugar free gums to enhance oral hygiene.

Sugar free gums act as a salivary stimulant
The chewing gums acts as a salivary stimulant. The action of chewing increases the natural production of saliva, which plays a vital role in the maintenance of oral health. Dental studies reveal that the initial stimulated salivary flow rate while chewing sugar free gum is 10-12 times greater than the unstimulated flow rate.

Saliva is crucially important for:

1) Buffering the acids produced in plaque from food debris.
2) Supplying calcium, phosphate, hydroxyl and fluoride to re-mineralise incipient      lesions.
3) Diluting and increasing clearance of food debris from around the teeth.

Many of the beneficial actions of sugar free gums are due to the activation of the protective effects of saliva by chewing gum, in view of the prolonged stimulation of salivation by gum chewing. Sugar free chewing gum is a practical and acceptable stimulus for consumption after carbohydrate foods, and brings no undue calories.

Sugar free gums should be used in addition to the regular dental regimen to help in prevention of tooth decay.

Xylitol and happydent protex
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar substitute found in many fruits, berries, vegetable, mushrooms etc.

A five-carbon natural sugar alcohol or pentitol, Xylitol, has been shown to be a successful dental caries preventive agent both in animals and humans. As sweet as sucrose (table Sugar) and non-metabolisable by most oral bacteria, it is one of the most appropriate and promising dietary sugar substitutes tested for caries prevention purposes. Xylitol is a normal metabolic intermediate of the glucuronic-xylulose cycle in mammals including humans.

Xylitol has been approved for various dietary and other uses worldwide. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has approved xylitol in general in all foods, and the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Xylitol in 1963 for special dietary purposes.

Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt. Ltd., manufacturer and marketer of confectionery, has launched Happydent Protex, a specially formulated sugar free chewing gum. The company claims that Happydent Protex is a sugar free chewing gum and contains the active ingredient Xylitol.

How Xylitol helps in prevention of tooth decay
When we ingest sucrose in our diet, it is fermented in our mouth through bacterial action. This process lowers the PH level in the mouth causing it to become acidic. The acidic nature of

the mouth is harmful as it causes demineralization of enamel which can result in the formation of cavities. Thus any measure taken to restore PH to the safe level (of PH 7) is recommended to prevent tooth decay.

The introduction in foods, especially in chewing gums, of unfermentable sugars like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol instead of sucrose, make a valid contribution to oral hygiene for the following reasons:

1) It reduces the fermentable carbohydrates in the diet and
2) The polyalcohols have a neutralizing effect on the PH drop in saliva.
3) Anti-Caries activity that has been widely documented in “in vitro” and
“in vivi”

As quoted in a study conducted by Albert Bar in the World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics “Xylitol is a particularly suitable substance for caries prevention because of its non-fermentability, its inhibitory action on the growth and metabolism of certain cariogenic plaque bacteria and its enhancing effect on some natural defense mechanisms against dental caries”.

Research and findings
Various studies have been conducted throughout the world to establish the benefits of Xylitol:

* The relationship between the caries status and microbiological status (Mutans Streptococci) in the proximal areas of lower right and upper left molars investigated in subjects of the Ylivieska Xylitol Study in Finland (1982-1985) in a cross-sectional follow-up in 1988. Those children who have used Xylitol chewing gum regularly since 1982 showed significantly lower caries indices in 1988.
* It is likely that the long term (1982-1985) habitual Xylitol consumption had decreased the prevalence of mutans streptococci in the interproximal areas of the present subjects and, subsequently, decreased the proximal and overall caries indices.
* A 24-month Cohort Study by Kauko K. Makinen, Institute of Dentistry, of Turku has proven that the largest caries risk reduction was observed in the group receiving Xylitol pellet gums.
* A three-year study on caries activity in Hungarian children. The study was done to assess the value of partial substitution fo sucrose with Xylitol as a caries preventive measure in comparison with systemic administration of Fluoride and restorative treatment procedures. It concluded that dietary Xylitol in solid sweets resulted in lower increment of caries than obtained in the groups that were treated with Fluoride and restorative treatments.
* Recent data show that Xylitol exhibits a bacteriostatic activity on a wide range of bacteria based on uptake and expulsion of Xylitol. Intracellular Xylitol 5-P appears to be the key

substance associated with the inhibition of bacterial metabolism by Xylitol. The bacteriostatic properties of Xylitol in plaque are a mechanism which may well account for the caries-therapeutic effect of Xylitol.

Partial sugar substitution with Xylitol in food is, therefore, an important dietary tool in prevention of dental caries that can, and indeed should be used to enhance existing fluoridation and oral hygiene measures.


The use of sugar-free gum after eating meals and snacks promotes the in vivo remineralisation of enamel lesions, and had been shown to reduce clinical caries development. Such a benefit could clearly provide a valuable contribution to oral health.

Clinical studies have shown that the use of chewing gums, with Xylitol helps in decreasing the growth and adhesiveness of bacterial plaque, further determining a reduction in the incidence of caries.

Thereby, sugar free chewing gums with Xylitol, like Happydent Protex, helps in the prevention of tooth decay.