Xylitol may sweeten your chewing gum but whether it prevents cavities is unclear.
Xylitol is a sugarless sweetener usually derived from birch trees and it can be found in gum, lozenges and candies. Some websites for products with xylitol boast that it inhibits bacterial growth and helps prevent tooth decay, according to the December issue of Consumer Reports on Health.
But the evidence is still unclear whether gum sweetened with xylitol—and in the amounts typically used—offers any benefit over sugarless gum in general, which can help protect teeth by increasing saliva protection. To be reassured you’re chewing the most safe and effective gum, look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance on the product.
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay, according to the ADA. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel.
The only varieties of gum with the ADA Seal are sugarless. Chewing sugarless gum should not replace brushing and flossing. The ADA recommends brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interdental cleaners.
The ADA Seal is your assurance that the sugar-free chewing gum has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. You can trust that claims made on packaging and labeling for ADA-accepted products are true, because companies must verify all of the information to the ADA. Products with the ADA Seal say what they do and do what they say.© American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.