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Br Dent J. 1999 Dec 11;187(11):612-5; discussion 604.

Attitudes of carers and the elderly occupants of residential homes to antimicrobial chewing gum as an aid to oral health.

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  • 1West Herts Community Dental services, Dental Department, Principal Health Centre, Civic Close, St Albans, Herts AL1 3LA.



The aim of this study was to investigate the attitudes of elderly residents to using an antimicrobial chewing gum as an aid to oral health, and the opinion of their carers on such a procedure.


A cross-sectional, multi-centre survey using a structured interview/questionnaire conducted with elderly residents and their carers.


In January 1998, 9 residential/nursing homes were chosen at random from all the homes in West Hertfordshire, 207 residents were asked to chew two pieces of gum twice daily for 7 days.


The participants, 148 women and 59 men, were aged between 53-100 years (mean age 82.23 +/- 9.62 years). 47 carers, all female, were involved in distributing and collecting the gum.


122 residents (58.9%) were edentulous and 85 (41%) of the participants were partially dentate. Of those with teeth 23 (27%) had 21 teeth or more. 73 (35.2%) residents found that chewing the gum was difficult with 37 (17.9%) of this group being unable to chew (P < 0.0001 for those residents with no teeth/dentures or dentures unopposed by teeth or other dentures). 32 (18.6%) subjects disliked the flavour of the gum. Of the 170 residents who chewed the gum 99 (57.2%) found it reduced oral dryness and 78 (45.1%) reported it made their mouth feel healthy. 34 (53.6%) of the dentate and 47 (40.9%) of the edentate residents wished to keep using the gum (P < 0.05). 35 (74.5%) of the carers found it easy to distribute the gum and 29 (61.7%) thought that chewing gum was an acceptable method of maintaining oral health for residents.


The antimicrobial gum investigated in this study was acceptable to many elderly occupants and their carers, significantly improving perceived oral health and oral dryness of residents.

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