For the first time ever, the American Dental Association is putting its seal on some Wrigley’s chewing gum products—they’ll now say that the ADA considers them products that are “clinically proven to help prevent cavities, reduce plaque acid and strengthen teeth.” The ADA and some health professionals say that this is a perfectly acceptable application of the seal, because a full study was carried out that proved the products work. The only problem is, the study was privately funded and the gum companies partially paid for them.
Dr. Peter Lurie of Public Citizen says,
“What does the seal really mean? If it had been an FDA-style approval, we would know what studies had been done and we would be able to scrutinize them for ourselves. Because this study has been done privately, we have no way of knowing the clinical benefit.”
ABC News says that Wrigley paid $36,000 to include its Orbit, Extra, and Eclipse brands in the study, and that Wrigley “regularly spends $35,000 to $45,000 in exhibit booth space at the ADA’s annual meeting, advertising in its publications, and on other sponsorships.”
Despite the controversy (if this even counts as controversy in today’s market of privately-funded research), it’s widely accepted that the ADA’s tests are tough and comprehensive, and that sugar-free gum does promote dental health by stimulating saliva production.
“Dentists, Consumer Groups Debate ADA Seal on Gum” [ABC News]