Best Chewing Gum for your Teeth: What is Xylitol Gum?
Most of us grew up being told chewing gum or eating candies would give us cavities, and for the most part this was good advice. This was especially true for sugary chewing gum which remained in the mouth for long periods of time until it was finally devoid of all flavor.
The only beneficial part of chewing gum was the exercise it provided for the jaw muscles.
However, nowadays there are plenty of chewing gums available that can actually be beneficial for oral health. This new generation of gums contain a substance called xylitol that help to prevent plaque building up in the mouth.
Things to Know
Xylitol naturally occurs in foods such as cauliflower, endives, mushrooms, berries and oats, and is also produced from birch tree pulp or corn. It was first discovered during the late 19th century, but didn’t receive much attention until sugar shortages in Finland during the Second World War prompted researchers to look at it more closely. However it wasn’t until the late sixties that the first studies were carried out in Finland to show how consuming xylitol could help to reduce dental plaque.
It does this by inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus mutans, which are the bacteria largely responsible for causing cavities. Streptococcus mutans are gram positive bacteria naturally present in the mouth, and are responsible for producing an acidic environment through fermenting sugar in the mouth, leaving the tooth enamel vulnerable to decay. Streptococcus mutans cannot use xylitol to produce acid. Obviously anything that inhibits their growth is desirable, especially if this can be achieved by merely chewing the right kind of gum.
REDUCES BUILD-UP OF PLAQUE
Xylitol gum produces a more pH neutral environment, helping to promote dental health. Chewing gum helps to stimulate the flow of saliva, so if you chew gum after eating, when saliva production has already slowed, then an increased flow of saliva will help to wash away small particles of food before they can be used as food by plaque bacteria, helping to keep the mouth less acidic, protecting the teeth from erosion.
It may be even more beneficial than first realized, as trials of xylitol have shown it could help teeth to re-mineralize, helping to repair and strengthen tooth enamel.
WHAT ABOUT IF I SWALLOW IT?
It is recommended that chewing gum containing xylitol is chewed two or three times a day, and 5 grams is considered to be the optimal daily intake.
Xylitol takes a long time to digest in the large intestine, and acts in the same way as fiber. Ingesting too much can act in a similar way to laxatives, but the amounts required for this to happen are much larger than the suggested amount to reduce the incidence of cavities. It is also possible to buy candies and mints containing xylitol for a safe, sweet treat.
Xylitol and xylitol gum has been assessed as safe to use by a number of prominent health agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Union’s Scientific Committee for Food and the World Health Organization’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives. Xylitol is also good for diabetics as it has an extremely low glycemic index number.
Sadly, most stores do not carry Xylitol Gum. In the greater Houston area you can find it at the following retail locations:
SOME GREAT ONLINE STORES FOR XYLITOL GUM
But the best place to purchase Xylitol gum for your dental health is online at the following locations:
- Spry Gum from Xlear