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Nicotine gum may whiten teeth too

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Reuters Health

Friday, September 12, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Nicotine gum may not only help some smokers quit, but may give them a whiter smile as well, a study suggests.

In experiments with cow tooth enamel, researchers found that two nicotine gum products were better at removing stains than a regular "whitening" chewing gum. All of the gums bested the whitening ability of ordinary human saliva, however.

The findings, reported in the online journal BMC Oral Health, may give smokers a bit more incentive to try to kick the habit, according to the researchers.

"This visible improvement in tooth whitening appearance could strengthen the smokers' motivation to quit smoking," write the investigators, led by Michael Moore of Indiana University -- Purdue University Fort Wayne.

His colleagues on the study were with Novartis Consumer Health, the maker of the two Nicotinell-brand nicotine gums the researchers tested.

For the study, the researchers exposed cow tooth enamel to a mixture containing coffee, tea and other natural pigments, for 10 days. They then exposed the stained enamel to either human saliva alone or saliva plus one of the test gums, under conditions simulating a person chewing, for three to six 20-minute periods.

They found that the nicotine gums outperformed the whitening chewing gum in removing the dental stains.

Considering that cigarette smoke is a well-known cause of tooth staining, the whitening ability of nicotine gum might encourage would-be quitters to stick with their nicotine-replacement therapy, according to Moore's team.

"This effect," they write, "might be stressed by healthcare professionals when advising their patients to stop smoking, since esthetic considerations are often cited by patients as one among many reasons to comply with professional advice."

SOURCE: BMC Oral Health, online August 11, 2008.

Reuters Health

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