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Dry mouth causes cavities, but gum can help
Updated: 7/31/2012 6:30:01 PM

Dry mouth causes cavities, but gum can help  

Many people may think that cavities are something that only affect children, but they are wrong. Anyone who doesn't pay proper attention to their dental health can develop cavities, and they are particularly common in elderly individuals. Recently, a study published in the journal Caries Research found that older adults have a more difficult time producing saliva than younger people, which is a risk factor for cavities. However, the study also showed that chewing gum may help.

Saliva washes leftover food particles from teeth, and when people do not produce enough fluids in their mouth, bits of what they have eaten get left behind and act as food for the bacteria that causes cavities. In this recent study, scientists set out to determine if chewing gum could increase saliva production in elderly individuals who have an increased risk of dry mouth.

"The results of this study provide strong evidence that frequent gum chewing may improve oral health by increasing salivary flow, particularly in the elderly who are especially prone to lower saliva production," said researcher Larry Miller, D.D.S.

Of course, some types of gum may contain sugar, which can damage dental health, so people should look for sugar-free varieties. 

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