I love gum! I always make it a point to have it on hand with me. I am definitely one of those people that enjoys chewing a stick of gum after my meals. It is a great palette cleanser, and it keeps me from eating second helpings. However at my last dental check up I ended up having a cavity. I decided to ask my hygienist if my gum habit could be to blame. She informed me that gum can have lot of positive benefits for the health of your mouth. The key is to choose a healthy chewing gum. How do you know if you are purchasing a healthy chewing gum? Well, that is what I will be breaking down for you in this article.
You may be surprised to know that although we think of chewing gum as pretty harmless, there are a couple things about it that are important to consider. The first is that gum can contain sugar or potentially harmful artificial sweeteners. Since most people are aware that sugar filled gums can lead to cavities and tooth decay, most of the gum out there is now sugar free. However choosing sugar free gum isn't always enough. Sugar free gums contain chemical based artificial sweeteners. Many of these sweeteners are the topic of much debate in the health community. While some argue that they are perfectly safe, there are others that assert that they have potentially dangerous effects on our health. Some independent studies have linked chemical sweeteners like Aspartame to a variety of cancers. While it is still uncertain if this is true, I choose not to risk it. My dental hygienist recommended that I switch to gums that are sweetened with a sugar alcohol called Xylitol. Sugar alcohols are found naturally in some foods. They can also be derived by food manufacturers from sugar. Xylitol is one of the most widely used sugar alcohols. It is popular because it has far less calories than sugar. It is also low on the glycemic index, so it won't cause a large spike in your blood sugar. It is widely considered to be safe by the health community as well. In fact it has a positive impact on your dental health by helping to kill the bad bacterias that form in your mouth. It is a common ingredient in toothpaste.
The second interesting thing to note about gum is that its base is usually made from plastics and rubbers. This is a fact that very much surprised me and made me think twice about the gum I was buying. Back in the day, gums were usually made from something called chicle, which is from tree sap. Now it is made from synthetics. Since gum bases are made of a variety of these man made materials with the health implications being unknown, it is best to stick to gums that still use a natural chicle base.
Upon my research I found that there are gums that use both Xylitol and a chicle base. Perhaps the most common one is from a brand called Glee Gum. They do sell flavors with sugar as well as ones that are sugar free with just Xylitol for sweetening. Let us know if there are any healthy chewing gum brands that you love!