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Benefits of Chewing Gum Containing Xylitol

There are oral health benefits to chewing gum, especially gum containing xylitol. Chewing gum increases the production of saliva, aiding in stabilizing the pH balance of the oral cavity, thus reducing the incidence of decay. Chewing gum containing xylitol has been proven to decrease the incidence of decay by the xylitol decreasing the growth of the bacteria that causes decay.

What is Xylitol and how does it decrease cavities?
Xylitol is not a sugar, it is a natural sugar alcohol. Streptococcus mutans are primary bacteria contributing to tooth decay, which can’t utilize xylitol like sugar. Over time with xylitol use, the quality of the bacteria in the mouth is altered and fewer and fewer decay causing bacteria survive. Less plaque forms, and the level of acids attacking the tooth surface is decreased.

Xylitol containing gum can reduce your children’s incidence of decay. Studies show that Streptococcus mutans bacteria are passed from parents to their newborn children, thus beginning the growth of decay producing bacteria in the child. Regular use of xylitol gum by mothers has been shown to significantly reduce the transmission of bacteria to their child.

How often must I chew xylitol gum for it to be effective?
Xylitol gum used 3-5 times a day is considered optimal. Because the frequency and duration of exposure is important, gum should be chewed for approximately 5 minutes. As xylitol is digested slowly in the large intestine, large amounts can lead to soft stools or have a laxative effect. However, suggested amount for cavity reduction are far lower than those typically producing un-welcomed symptoms.

What to keep in mind
Although chewing sugar-free gum can be beneficial in most instances, there are some cases in which chewing gum is not recommended. For example, if you are experiencing any type of jaw pain or temporomandibular disorder symptoms (TMD/TMJ), you should refrain from chewing gum and talk to your dentist about what options are available to you.

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