Although many people view them as minor problems, cavities are actually quite serious. Besides causing sensitivity, they promote tooth decay and infections that can result in tooth loss and costly restorative treatments. To prevent cavities from occurring, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene on a consistent basis. That said, according to research, there’s another strategy people can employ to prevent cavities from developing; however, it may not be for the reasons people thought. For years, sugarless chewing gum manufacturers have claimed that their products have the ability to prevent cavities. Numerous studies seem to support these assertions; however, new research seems to suggest the reasons were’t what many thought. Most credited the sweetener xylitol for giving sugarless gum its cavity-preventing power; but a recent study seems to prove that this isn’t the case. Published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, the study looked at nearly 700 adult subjects over a 3-year period. Half the participants were told to consume xylitol lozenges five times per day, while the other half received placebo lozenges instead. In the end, researchers found no difference in cavity development between the two groups, indicating that xylitol itself offered no real protection against cavities. According to researchers, this latest study suggests that it’s the act of chewing that reduces the risk of cavity development. This makes sense, when you consider the fact that chewing increases saliva production, which helps prevent plaque from accumulating on teeth. According to the article, 20 percent of Americans have untreated cavities. This startling statistic suggests that a large portion of the U.S. population fails to regularly meet with an experienced dentist, who would identify these problems before they lead to serious decay. Don’t risk losing your teeth to infections and decay. To ensure that your dental health is up to par, call Drs. Ken & Marnie Collins at 509-581-4188 in Spokane or 509-927-2273 in Spokane Valley, to schedule regular cleanings and checkups.