Most of the chewing gums out there include aspartame in them. You’ve probably heard of aspartame and know that it’s not good for you. There might be some potential health effects of aspartame, but this post is about Xylitol benefits rather than the health effects of aspartame, so I will only touch on what aspartame is, and take a deep dive into the benefits of Xylitol.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, and it’s mainly used as a sugar substitute in foods, beverages, and chewing gums. It is present in most of the ‘sugar-free’ products’, such as diet coke, diet soda, Kool-Aid, Trident, etc. FDA first approved aspartame in 1974 and ever since then, both FDA scientists and independent scientists have raised concerns about possible health effects.
I’m not sure what would be a replacement for aspartame in beverages, but there is a replacement for chewing gums that is actually a healthy option: Xylitol.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, does not actually contain alcohol, found in most plant materials. It is extracted from birch wood to make medicine. Xylitol is widely used as a sugar substitute mostly in sugar-free chewing gums. Many studies, such as the one from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, have shown that xylitol kills anaerobic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans that cause cavities and dental decay.
I’ve first heard of xylitol from Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. on Joe Rogan Experience, where she talks about her personal experience with xylitol gum. Here’s how her story goes: A couple of years ago, she went to the dentist for regular cleaning/check-up. After the cleaning and x-rays, the dentist told her that she had 2 cavities and they were at the point of no return. She was surprised because she doesn’t even eat sugar. She decided that she was going to do some reading and research on it before getting a filling.
During her research, Dr. Patrick came across xylitol gum and started digging deep into xylitol. She found multiple types of research on xylitol gum including the one that was done on pregnant women. The study found that pregnant women who chewed xylitol gum during and after their pregnancies lowered their oral bacteria, and had the same effects on their toddlers and children as they grew up, since mothers kiss their children all the time and cause bacteria transfer from them to their children’s mouth. So mother’s chewing of xylitol gum had a positive effect on the child’s oral microbiome.
Dr. Patrick started chewing xylitol gum religiously and even gave herself a TMJ which is
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction so her jaw was popping when she was chewing, but it totally fixed itself. After a year, she went back to the dentist thinking that the cavity was still there. After the x-rays, the dentist came back and said he’s never seen this before but your cavities are gone. He showed the previous x-rays and the current ones and told her they are gone and asked what she actually did. She said the only thing she could think of was her obsessive xylitol gum-chewing which she still does to this day.
Disclaimer: I’m not a dentist, and I don’t know if reversing a cavity is possible. I’m just narrating what Dr. Rhonda Patrick said on The Joe Rogan Experience.
After listening to this podcast, I decided that I should be chewing xylitol gum as well. It took me some time to start but I did. Now I only chew xylitol gum hoping that it keeps my teeth healthy, I obviously still do the usuals such as brushing, flossing, etc.
You can find xylitol products, gums in my experience, at The Vitamin Shoppe, Amazon, Walmart, and even at Marshall’s. After finding out about xylitol gum, I’ve never chewed a regular sugar-free gum. Personally, I didn’t notice any differences, but even if there is a slight chance of getting dental health benefits from it, I’ll take it. You should too.