July 26, 2019
We’ve recommended sugarless gum, most recently in our tips for dentist-approved Easter candy. Chewing it is a good idea after eating if you’re unable to brush. It spurs production of saliva, a natural cavity fighter. Saliva neutralizes and washes away damaging acids that are produced when bacteria in your mouth breaks down food. The best choice, though, is xylitol gum.
Check out our advice on xylitol gum here. If you have any further questions, ask us at your next dental exam or call Appalachian Dental Care at 828-355-5673.
Why You Should Consume Xylitol
Xylitol is a naturally-occurring alcohol found in fruits, vegetables, and other plants. Your body also produces it in small amounts. It has many uses in medicine, including as a sugar substitute for diabetes patients and to prevent middle ear infections in young children.
In recent years, manufacturers have begun using it as a sugar substitute in a growing number of foods, including peanut butter, ketchup, and baked goods. It has 40 percent fewer calories than sugar. As a cavity fighter, it:
- Makes it tougher for bacteria to adhere to your teeth and form plaque.
- Reduces the amount of bacteria in your saliva.
- Doesn’t convert to acids, as sugar does. Acids eat away at your tooth enamel, leaving it susceptible to cavities
- Helps your body better absorb calcium, which makes your teeth stronger and more decay resistant.
Xylitol Gum Is an Especially Good Choice
You have choices other than gum to consume xylitol for its dental benefits. There is a growing selection of products on the market, including mouth sprays, mouthwash, mints, toothpaste, and even nasal sprays. Xylitol gum offers several advantages, though.
- A Way to Stimulate Saliva – As stated before, the simple act of chewing increases your saliva production. Saliva washes away bits of food and helps freshen your breath and prevent dry mouth.
- Easy to Take With You – You can easily slip gum into a pocket or purse, so you can always have some on hand to chew a piece after meals.
- Tasty – Xylitol gum comes in all kinds of great flavors. Unlike some other healthy items, you probably won’t mind adding it to your diet.
The More Xylitol in Your Gum, the Better
You’re looking for a gum that contains a good amount of xylitol. We recommend choosing a gum that delivers at least one gram of xylitol per piece. A good rule of thumb is to choose a gum that lists xylitol as the first ingredient. If you can, avoid gums that also contain other sweeteners like sorbitol and manitol. If that’s not possible, make sure these sweeteners are listed after xylitol.
Ideally, your gum will contain little else but xylitol, a gum base, and natural flavors like peppermint oil or spearmint oil. You may also see ingredients like carnuba wax (for a shiny glaze) and gum arabic (for a chewy texture). It’s possible to find popular brands of gum containing xylitol in retail stores. But health food stores may offer a greater selection of gums with a greater concentraton of xylitol.
3 Tips for Fighting Tooth Decay With Xylitol Gum
Chew a piece of gum three to five times a day, for at least five minutes each time, to enjoy the maximum cavity-fighting benefits. Don’t use it as a substitute for brushing and flossing, however.
- Look for a gum that also contains CPP-ACP (casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate), a substance that helps remineralize your tooth enamel. CPP-ACP is also known by the trademarked name Recaldent.
- Avoid gums that contain citric acids, as they counteract the positive effects of xylitol.
Want to learn more about xylitol gum? Ask at your next exam or just give us a call at 828-355-5673.