When you pick your gum look for a gum with Xylitol as a sweetener. On the list of the ingredients (all those fine printed names nobody knows how to pronounce) the Xylitol should be listed as first ingredient. Usually the first listed ingredient is the one that is in the highest concentration.
Chewing gum stimulates saliva flow, saliva helps to neutralize the acids that cause tooth decay. Xylitol blocks bacteria from producing the acids that cause tooth decay. It reduces the level of cavity causing bacteria and decreases plaque formation. It also helps to remineralize and strengthen weakened teeth.
There are many gums with xylitol available. Check the labels and find one you and your kids like.
How old do kids need to be to chew gum? They should understand that they should not swallow the gum. Usually this means kids 4 years or older. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that younger kids may swallow gum.
One study highlighted the case of a 4-year-old boy with a two-year history of constipation. After many tests and treatments, doctors had to remove a blockage, which largely consisted of chewed gum. Turns out the boy always swallowed his gum. Doctors had to perform the same procedure in the case of a 4-year old girl who suffered from terrible constipation. That child also swallowed her gum, often just to get another piece. So before you give your child gum, make sure she knows only to chew - and never to swallow.
On the other hand there is very good evidence that mothers of infants can reduce the risk of transferring caries causing bacteria to their children. It is an effective strategy to reduce the caries risk of children to have their moms chew sugar free xylitol gum.
You do however want to keep Xylitol away from dogs. Xylitol is toxic for dogs, even in small dosage it can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizures, liver failure or even death.
Dietmar Kennel DDS