SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHEWING GUM
Moms, don’t be quick to say no to chewing gum. If it’s got xylitol in it, it’s got more health benefits than you think.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener derived from a sugar called xylose found in plants. Studies show chewing gum with xylitol helps salivary glands produce saliva. Saliva has important nutrients such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. These nutrients help remineralize the teeth and prevent cavities.
In fact, studies show when xylitol gum is chewed regularly for months, it actually reduces the amount of plaque on the teeth. Other studies show chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals can help prevent cavities.
Experts recommend mothers with children from birth to age 2 chew xylitol gum 3 to 5 times daily to prevent the transmission of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) from mother to child. S. mutans is the main bacteria that promotes tooth decay.
Young children are at higher risk of having bad germs colonizing in their mouths and eating away tooth enamel. The use of xylitol can prevent the colonization of cavity-causing bacteria and help prevent future dental problems in children.
Now before you stock your shopping cart with cases of gum, take note. You want to make sure the gum you choose for yourself or your child is sugar-free. Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance provided by the American Dental Association. The ADA only approves sugarless gums. Brands include:
- 5 Sugarfree Gum
- Bazooka Sugar Free Bubble Gum
- Dentyne Ice Sugarless Gum
- Eclipse Sugarfree Gum
- Extra Sugarfree Gum
- Ice Breakers Ice Cubes
- Orbit Sugarfree Gum
- Stride Sugarless Gum
- Trident Sugarfree Gum
Just don’t substitute brushing and flossing with gum chewing. Your child still needs to brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day to remove plaque between teeth. Make sure your young one eats a well-balanced diet with a limited amount of sugary and starchy foods. Have your child drink plenty of fluoridated water, and schedule regular checkups twice year.