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.
Our dentist didn't tell me which brand to try - so I had to do the research myself. I ruled out Trident when I saw how little xylitol it actually contained - and that the company didn't bother to take out the artificial sweetener aspartame or the artificial coloring. Not to mention, their gum base source is not disclosed. Most chewing gum companies use a "gum base" that is derived from plastic. Even some of the more natural gums you find at Whole Foods and other natural stores contain this artificial and undisclosed "gum base." But since I would be giving this gum to my children every day in our war against decay it was important that I find a brand that was 100% natural. Finally, I found what I was lookign for in XyliChew, a Finland produced chewing gum sold at my local healthfood store. XyliChew contains a high concentration of xylitol, an all-natural gum base, and a pleasant flavor that lasts for a natural amount of time (unlike aspartame - which stays sweet for hours). The spearmint flavor became our gum-of-choice. My kids were super excited to be able to chew gum - especially since it is taboo amongst many of their friends. I allow them kids two pieces of XyliChew a day in between meals when we are in the car or shopping. They chew it for about 5 minutes and then toss it in the trash. Results: no cavities in over a year and no constant wad of gum in the mouth. Everyone wins.