What is xylitol gum?

Some types of chewing gum include xylitol as a sweetener.

Chewing gum can be artificially sweetened, using aspartame or sorbitol, or using a natural sweetener such as sugar or xylitol. Xylitol gum is made with xylitol, a “tooth-friendly” sugar alcohol found naturally in the wood of trees. Xylitol looks and tastes like sugar, except that, unlike regular cane sugar or other sweeteners, xylitol has many benefits for dental hygiene.


Xylitol has anti-cariogenic properties. Specifically, xylitol inhibits the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium primarily responsible for causing tooth decay. Compare this to other sweeteners, which commonly promote bacterial growth. This wood sugar also reduces plaque by attracting and inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms, giving teeth time to remineralize enamel lesions.

Chewing xylitol gum can result in a reduced rate of ear infections for some people.

The benefits go beyond the teeth. A 1996 study in the “British Medical Journal” conducted a study to see if xylitol gum had any effect on children who suffered from repeated ear infections. Half of the children chewed xylitol gum and the other half chewed regular gum at the same frequency. Children who masked xylitol gum had a significantly reduced rate of ear infections. Xylitol gum is also popular for diabetics because the sweetener is slowly absorbed by the body and has minimal effect on blood glucose levels.

Chewing gum with xylitol is considered “tooth-friendly”.

Xylitol was first discovered in 1891 by a German chemist and has been used in foods in the United States since the 1960s. There are no known serious risks to humans associated with xylitol. However, wood sugar is a mild laxative and some people may experience diarrhea. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) consider xylitol safe for everyone from babies to pregnant women and the elderly. However, products that contain xylitol can be deadly for dogs.

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The best way to get xylitol in your diet is to chew gum regularly. Xylitol gum can be purchased from conventional supermarkets, health food stores, or online through the manufacturer. There are many flavors and brands to choose from.

This sweetener is not often used in baked goods because it can negatively interact with yeast. Xylitol gum typically contains about 1 gram of xylitol per piece. The only way to get the health benefits associated with xylitol is to consume 4 to 12 grams of this substance per day. Xylitol gum containing 1 gram of the sweetener must be chewed at least four times a day for any effects to be seen. Otherwise, the gum will prove ineffective even if taken in higher doses, but only once or twice a day.

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