The Gum Your Dentist Wants You to Chew

Want healthier teeth? Chew gum made with xylitol, a sweetener made from the bark of birch trees. Studies show that xylitol doesn’t contribute to tooth decay formation like normal sugars – and it may also prevent the usual decay-forming oral bacteria from doing damage.

Here’s how it works
When you eat something that contains sugar or starch, the bacteria in your teeth “feed” off of those substances, getting the energy needed to produce harmful acids and wage war against tooth enamel. Those same bacteria are unable to digest xylitol, which means they don’t have an energy source that allows them to grow and produce acid. The bottom line: you get to enjoy some gum and protect your teeth at the same time.

Ready to start chewing?
A daily dose of 6-10 grams of xylitol is the best bet for bacteria prevention, which means 6-10 sticks of xylitol gum per day is optimal (the actual number depends on the concentration of xylitol). To maximize your results, split the daily serving up into three or four gum chewing sessions. Chew for at least five minutes every time. Don’t chew gum? Xylitol mints are also available.

Can’t find xylitol gum or mints?
A sugar-free option is probably the next best thing. Even though it doesn’t prevent bacteria like xylitol does, chewing sugar-free gum will increase saliva flow, which helps wash sugar, acid from bacteria and food pieces away from teeth.

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