Chewing Gum Is Associated with Better Diet Quality but Not Oral Health Measures in U.S. Adults

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Nutrition Association




Chewing gum; dental caries; diet; nutrition surveys; oral health


Chewing gum (especially sugar-free gum) has been linked to improved oral health, however there is an absence of observational research using nationally-representative data in the United States. We sought to examine the factors associated with chewing gum and its relationship with the oral health status of U.S. adults. Cross-sectional data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2013-2018 cycles were used in these analyses. Primary outcomes were the odds of having gum disease, treatment for gum disease, ever being told of bone loss around teeth, root caries, caries, and restoration. Unadjusted and multivariate logistic regression models were used to investigate the relationship of chewing gum use with demographic/lifestyle factors and the oral health status of participants. 2.40% ( = 365) of adults were users of chewing gum and the average among users was 5.20 ± 0.40 g/d. Users of chewing gum were more likely to be female, younger in age, and non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic. Self-reported chewing gum use did not affect the oral health status of U.S. adults (OR: 1.10, 95% CI: 0.42-2.88 for gum disease; OR: 1.34, 95% CI: 0.64-2.81 for treatment for gum disease; OR: 0.56, 95% CI: 0.27-1.17 for bone loss around teeth; OR: 1.01, 95% CI: 0.32-3.12 for root caries; OR: 0.96, 95% CI: 0.54-1.69 for caries), except for restoration (OR: 3.54, 95% CI: 1.78-7.06), but was associated with improved diet quality (OR: 1.86, 95% CI: 1.11-3.12 for a healthy eating index (HEI) of 51-59; OR: 1.96, 95% CI: 1.08-3.56 for HEI of 60-93); and decreased intakes of snacks (OR: 1.64, 1.01-2.69), and added sugars. Future observational studies that more accurately capture chewing gum usage are needed, as these analyses have several limitations.


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