Stay away from eating too much fat, it will make you fat. No, stay away from eating too many carbs, they will make you fat. Drinking some alcohol is good for you. No, drinking any alcohol is bad for you. One thing is certain: the recommendations for healthy living are going to change. However, chewing gum = bad for your teeth has held pretty steady since I was in grade school. If it has sugar in it, it will cause cavities. Sugarless gum was at least OK: 4 out of 5 dentists recommend it, and it’s the only kind my mom lets me chew.
Now it’s the 21st century, and you can buy gum containing xylitol, although it’s a little hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Xylitol is a natural sugar, originally made from the bark of birch trees, that has actually been shown in clinical studies in Finland from 30 or so years ago to significantly reduce cavities. It does all good things, like reduce the bad bacteria (mutans streptococci – yuk!) in your mouth, stop the growth of small cavities and actually remineralize your teeth. There are also studies that show it reduces ear infections. You’re supposed to chew it 4 times a day for the optimum effect. It tastes good, too – naturally sweet, with no bitter aftertaste (I’m looking at you, stevia).
A few minor cons need to be mentioned. First, it’s supposed to be pretty toxic to dogs, so be careful not to drop any on the floor. Second, you need to search for it. In my local big box drugstore, the only xylitol gum I could find was the Hershey’s Ice Breakers Ice Cube gum, although of course it’s easy to order online. Stuff your children’s stockings with something that’s actually good for them – I guarantee they won’t notice.
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