Imagine if avoiding cavities and tooth decay were as simple as popping a refreshing self-cleaning mint in your mouth, cleansing your teeth of harmful bacteria. It turns out that it may already be this simple: New research suggests that sugar-free gum may have the ability to protect your oral health from decay.

Published in the British Dental Journal, the study found that chewing sugar-free gum could prevent tooth decay and a plethora of oral health problems — all while reducing the costs of dental treatments for the National Health Service (NHS) and families in the United Kingdom. Sugar-free are the key words here, however, as too much sugar paired with poor oral hygiene can still lead to dental problems.

The study, completed by researchers at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, notes that tooth decay is a common problem in the U.K., with the number of 12-year-olds who are ashamed to smile or laugh due to their bad teeth as high as 35 percent. If all 12-year-olds in the U.K. chewed a piece of sugar-free gum twice every day, it could reduce the cost of up to $3 million in dental treatments and check-ups, the study argues. Chewing sugar-free gum three times a day could lower costs up to $9 million.

“The findings of this study are hugely exciting as they reveal a new and easy way of helping people improve their oral health,” Professor Liz Kay of Plymouth University, an author of the study, said in the press release. “Clinical evidence has already proved that sugar free gum can help prevent cavities and now we can also see a clear financial advantage.”

One disclaimer is that the study was supported by Wrigley, a company that contains plenty of gum brands like Orbit and Eclipse, however, previous research appears to back up the new findings.

In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, researchers found that chewing sugar-free gum removed up to 100 million bacteria in just 10 minutes, doing a job similar to, but not the same as, flossing. The most recent study, meanwhile, notes that gum slows the progression of tooth decay mainly through “increased salivary flow” during gum-chewing, which “neutralizes plaque acids, remineralizes tooth enamel and helps to remove food debris from the mouth and teeth.” Gum triggers saliva to clean out the mouth, and also sticks to bacteria, plucking them out from in between teeth and crevices.

Don’t let this new information thwart your teeth-brushing and flossing routine, however. The American Dental Association, while noting the merits of gum, warns us to always maintain our daily brushing and flossing. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals, when you don’t have time to brush, however, can only help. Along with other thorough oral hygiene, it may save you from going to the dreaded dentist for fillings or root canals years down the line.

Source: Claxton L, Taylor M, Kay E. Oral health promotion: the economic benefits to the NHS of increased use of sugar free gum in the UK. British Dental Journal, 2016.