I know that eating sugary candy is bad for my teeth, but what about chewing gum?I would like something minty after eating and I love chewing gum?
Actually depending on the ingredients, we tell our Weston dental patients that you can have mint candy or chew gum that is actually good for your teeth!You just have to read the list of ingredients carefully and choose the right product. You should also be wary of sugar-free candy or gum that uses artificial sweeteners.Some of these can also be detrimental such as aspartame. This sweetener has been linked to cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders and birth defects. It is best to choose Xylitol containing products.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener found in various fruits, berries, and vegetables. Although Xylitol looks and tastes exactly like sugar, it is much better for you.A series of studies have found that Xylitol promotes oral and overall health, especially when compared to regular sugars.Xylitol is available as gum, candies, and in raw form as a sweetener.
What are the benefits of chewing Xylitol gum?
The main benefits of Xylitol gum are oral. Normally, sugar is broken down by bacteria in the mouth, and this gives them the energy to multiply and create acid byproducts that damage your teeth.Xylitol does not break down like normal sugars, which prevents bacteria from sticking to your teeth—the bacteria actually starve.They cannot produce harmful acidic byproducts, i.e. no causing plaque formation.
Xylitol is also though to promote the repair of damaged enamel. When sugary foods are consumed, they cause the mouth to start producing excess saliva.This excess saliva actually protects teeth, and contains compounds needed to repair early cavities and other enamel damage. However, with normal sugars this effect is outweighed by the damage caused by the acid produced by the bacteria.Xylitol has the benefits of producing beneficial saliva without the harmful bacterial side effects.
So when you go out to eat and a toothbrush is not readily available, chewing Xylitol gum is the next best alternative. However, Xylitol gum is not a “substitute” for the twice daily brushing of one’s teeth, or any other routine dental care.
Are there other benefits to Xylitol use?
Xylitol has been found to help prevent ear infections and certain eye conditions that can lead to glaucoma. Xylitol nasal sprays have been found effective in preventing bacteria buildup in the nasal passages the same reasons as in the mouth.Regular use of Xylitol has also been linked to keeping bones healthy during aging.
Xylitol use also helps promote healthy eating. Xylitol has 40% fewer calories than regular sugar, as well as 70% fewer carbohydrates.Xylitol also slows digestion, making the stomach feel fuller longer, which can prevent cravings for more food.
Bottom line, we encourage our Weston dental patients (both adults and kids) to enjoy that occasional piece of candy or gum; just be sure it contains Xylitol instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners!