I'm not a huge fan of chewing gum. A constant wad of the stuff in a child's (or adult's) mouth really does look tacky. However, when my kids were diagnosed with early tooth decay (both of them by age 4) their pediatric dentist convinced me that we should give xylitol sweetened gum a try. Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute derived from the sugar alcohol found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables, including berries, plums, corn husks, oats and mushrooms. In the 1970s it was discovered that xylitol contained dental benefits and could be used to combat tooth decay. Recently, many companies have started adding it to their products. Even Trident is now claiming "xylitol" on its label.