In the 1980s, artificial sweeteners in blue and pink packets, diet soda and sugar-free gum set the standard as “healthy” alternatives to their sugar-laden counterparts. Today, there’s another sweetener called?xylitol? touting sweet-as-sugar taste that is low in calories. And, you’ll be happy to know, studies show it may help reduce and prevent cavities. 

A natural sweetener found in plants and fruits, xylitol was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1986 as a food additive. But, now it is appearing in sugar-free gum, mints and toothpaste. 

 Research confirms that xylitol inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the oral bacteria that causes cavities, according to a study in the General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed publication of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). The xylitol in the gum helps prevent dental caries and helps maintain a natural pH level in the mouth. Additionally, the act of chewing gum also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps clear away food, strengthen teeth, and reduce the levels of acid in your mouth that cause tooth decay. 

 Here are three tips for a sugar-free mouth: 1. Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste handy; children can keep travel-size products in lockers or backpacks, and adults should keep a spare pair at work. 2. Chew sugarless gum, with or without xylitol, after meals or snacks when unable to brush. 3. Drink water throughout the day to help cleanse teeth of excess bacteria. 

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