We’ve mentioned several times that chewing xylitol gum can help you avoid cavities… but what is xylitol, and how exactly does it HELP your teeth? Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. The sugars and starches in the foods you eat feed the bacteria, allowing them to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The breakdown of the enamel can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Researchers have found that xylitol can make it harder for bacteria to adhere to the teeth. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that is used in place of sugar. It is just as sweet as sugar but contains 33% less calories. It can be used in preparation of diabetic meals, by those sensitive to sugar, and by people interested in reducing their added sugar intake. So how does it help your teeth?The sweeteners in xylitol interfere with the growth of bacteria and reduce the acids – therefore, protecting your teeth. Researchers at the University of Minnesota Oral Health Research Clinic conducted a study with three groups of people to find out how xylitol works. The first group chewed a standard sorbitol-sweetened gum. The second group chewed no gum. And the third group chewed a xylitol-sweetened gum. After three months, the group who had chewed the xylitol-sweetened gum had the least amount of bacteria in their mouths. Most stores now offer gums with xylitol, but they’re most often combined with other sweeteners, such as sorbitol. These gums still provide benefits, but experts say it’s best to chew gum with xylitol as the only sweetener. What do you think about xylitol? Let us know in the comments!