Xylitol: Chew Your Way To Healthier Teeth and Gums?
Are you crazy about gum, but not so much about its affect on your teeth? (Good for you!) Researchers presenting at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Annual Session in Cincinnati found a natural sweetener may not only improve the taste of gum, juice and candy, it may also reduce tooth decay.
Their study observed children of Belize over the course of several years, some of whom chewed gum with sugar, others with artificial sweeteners. Results showed that those who chewed gum artificially sweetened with Xylitol, a natural sweetener found in trees and fruit that does not cause cavities, suffered from less tooth decay over the duration of the study.
Another study done in Finland found fewer mothers transmitted cavity-causing bacteria to their children when they chewed gum with xylitol. The bacteria transmission occurs when mother and children share eating utensils.
Xylitol is widely available in most supermarkets, but know that it's difficult to achieve the correct dosing. To see results, you'd have to chew gum with a high dose of Xylitol frequently and for prolonged durations. Products containing this natural sweetener may also cost more than those artificially sweetened with other additives.
So, the next time you're dying for a piece of chewy goodness, consider grabbing a brand containing Xylitol. While it can be difficult to obtain optimum results through its use, it is certainly far healthier to chew than gum containing sugar.
DR. GARY SIGAFOOS