This debate has been going on for years and we’re afraid the answer remains both YES and NO.
Many big-brand chewing gums are full of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Both are FDA approved and generally regarded as “safe” but are often comprised of plastics containing synthetic rubbers, emulsifiers, the controversial preservative BHT and a plastic called polyvinyl acetate.
Luckily, just like the movement for eating clean, small brands are looking for ways to “chew clean” and with it has come the discovery of associated dental health benefits. Most of these chewing gums are made from natural sugar alcohols such as xylitol instead of artificial sweeteners. Some brands go the extra mile by swapping out the gum base for chicle, a natural latex made from the bark of the sapodilla tree.
According to Canadian Dental Society Oasis Discussions, “Xylitol-sweetened chewing gum (supplemented by normal oral hygiene care) was shown to reduce the amount of dental decay by 70% in children in comparison to a population of children who did not chew the gum.”
Why is xylitol so effective?
- Xylitol has a unique chemical structure that goes unrecognized by bacteria in the oral cavity.
- Xylitol is not fermented and therefore, there is no resulting acid production or attack on the teeth.
- Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol helps to stimulate saliva production and flow to help remineralize early caries.
- It inhibits mutant growth, and with continued use, it can decrease the numbers of the bacteria in plaque.
- It increases the ratio of soluble to insoluble polysaccharides in the oral cavity.
- It produces complementary action to fluoride.