and themother just broke off the end of the little

Allison Aubrey: If you happen to check out the packaging of sugarless gum, you notice all kinds of health claims. Here I’ve got some Orbit and on the back it says “Helps fight cavities by strengthening teeth.” Down below here, there’s some Trident, On the back it says “Chewing Trident, which contains xylitol, helps fight cavities.” So do all these health claims really hold up?
Francisco Ramos-Gomez: You know it depends on how much of the active agent is in the product and how much you chew per day. Aubrey: Francisco Ramos-Gomez is a pediatric dentist at U.C.L.A. He says the popularity of sugarfree gums is an improvement, simply because when you remove sucrose, or table sugar, the agent that helps rot teeth, there’s a benefit. Since gum-makers have now gone one step further, adding a natural sweetener called xylitol, there’s potentially even more of a benefit. Xylitol can help kill off, or starve the bacteria living on our teeth.

Peter Milgrom: Xylitol is an antimicrobial, so it’s acting against the bacteria themselves,, so it helps prevent tooth decay. Aubrey: Peter Milgrom is a researcher and dentist at the University of Washington. He and his colleagues have studied how much xylitol is needed to actually knock out bacteria and prevent cavities, and he has two pieces of advice. First, glance at the ingredient list on the gum you’re buying. If xylitol is the first ingredient, then there’s probably enough of it to be effective. And second, chew a lot of it.
Milgrom: You have to chew at least two pieces, three times a day to have any effect. Aubrey: For kids who are too young to chew, or don’t have access to good preventive care, Peter Milgrom has just shown in a study of a group of toddlers in the Marshall Islands, that xylitol syrup is effective.
Milgrom: This was a strawberry flavored syrup that the kids ate without any trouble, and themother just broke off the end of the little, squishy, plastic tube that we put it in, and squirted it on the child’s teeth.
Aubrey: The syrup reduced the development of cavities by fifty to seventy percent, depending on how much kids received. Now, dentists say it’s important to remember that xylitol is not a magic bullet in fighting tooth decay. Burton Edelstein of Columbia University says people should stick with the basics of good oral hygiene.
Burton Edelstein: Control of the diet,, the regular use of fluoride toothpaste, good ongoing supervision by a dentist. Aubrey: And of course, daily brushing. As for the claims that sugarless gums, which don’t contain xylitol, may help strengthen teeth too, Edelstein says there’s indirect evidence that this is true. The gum can stimulate saliva flow, which helps fight plaque.
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