Chewing sugar-free gum can be a useful way to add some protection to your teeth and gums, especially if you use a gum that contains xylitol. Regular sugar-free gums boost your saliva flow, helping keep your teeth clean and healthy; add xylitol to the mix, and you may also benefit from the natural sweetener's bacteria-busting properties that may help reduce the risk of dental decay.
While you may have been happy to chew xylitol gums before you got pregnant, you may be worried about whether you should continue using products that contain sweeteners now you're having a baby. Does xylitol have any adverse effects on your pregnancy?
Overview of Xylitol Use in Pregnancy
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is used as a sweetener. As a sugar alcohol that is derived from fruits, vegetables and trees, it is considered safe for use when you're pregnant or breastfeeding. In fact, chewing xylitol gum may be beneficial when you're pregnant. By reducing the bacteria in your mouth, chewing on this kind of gum may also reduce the risks that you'll pass your oral bacteria on to your baby.
You may also find that chewing xylitol gum can help counteract the effects of morning sickness or pregnancy reflux. If you're throwing up a lot or have regular reflux attacks, your teeth may become damaged from the acids coming from your stomach. Xylitol gum may help protect your teeth from these acids by producing useful saliva to wash them away from your teeth.
Xylitol and Gestational Diabetes
If you've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you may be working with your doctor to manage your diet to control your condition. This may involve modifying the amount of sugars in your diet to control your blood glucose levels.
Although xylitol gum is sweet, it typically doesn't pose a problem to women who have gestational diabetes. Xylitol is low in calories and won't affect your blood glucose or insulin levels. This makes xylitol gum safe to use in pregnancy even if you do develop diabetes.
When to Be Careful With Xylitol
Chewing a piece of xylitol gum after a meal or a snack may help keep your teeth and gums healthy, however, using too much gum may give you some problems. It is recommended that a dosage of around 6-10 grams per day is enough to help improve your dental health. If you take in too much xylitol, you may end up with some unpleasant stomach problems that you could probably do without when you're pregnant such as diarrhoea.