Orbit offers 10 flavors of sugar-free gum, two of which also promise to help whiten your teeth. Two Orbit gum ingredients of particular note are sorbitol and xylitol, which give this products its sweet flavor while keeping it sugar-free.
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Notable Orbit Nutrition Facts
Orbit has eight "regular" flavors of gum: peppermint, spearmint, freeze mint, wintermint, sweet mint, bubblemint, strawberry and citrus. They also offer two whitening gum varieties in either peppermint or spearmint flavors. The two whitening flavors are labeled as "Orbit White," so you don't need to worry about confusing them with regular varieties.
According to the USDA, a two-piece serving of regular Orbit gum provides 5 calories, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of sugar alcohols. A two-piece serving of Orbit White gum has the same nutritional value, and both types of Orbit gum are sweetened with polyols, or sugar alcohols.
If you prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners, pay close attention to the label on your gum. In addition to sorbitol, xylitol and other sugar alcohols, such as mannitol and maltitol, both types of Orbit gum may contain the artificial sweeteners aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame K. They also use artificial colorings and BHT as a preservative.
Chewing Gum for Healthy Teeth?
Are the two flavors of Orbit whitening gum effective for whitening your teeth? A clinical study says yes — within a certain narrow context.
A 12-week, examiner-blind, randomized study of the gum's whitening efficacy was published in a 2014 issue of the_ Journal of Clinical Dentistry_, with the authors concluding that chewing Orbit whitening gum provided a significant reduction in new stain formation from behaviors like smoking, drinking coffee and drinking tea when used along with a regular tooth-brushing program.
However, it's important to note that the 76 subjects in the study started from a stain-free baseline, and nowhere do the authors mention the gum removing stains already in place. The latter might be what consumers expect after reading the manufacturer's claims about the gum's whitening power. The study was also sponsored by Wrigley, which could be interpreted as a conflict of interest; Wrigley manufactures Orbit gum.
What about chewing gum to protect against dental caries, or cavities? Although Orbit makes no claims regarding this, an older data review published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association found that chewing sugar-free gum after meals produces a significant decrease in the incidence of cavities. But its authors note that this benefit comes not from the gum's ingredients, but from stimulating salivary flow, which protects against cavities.
In another study, published in the October-November 2012 issue of the Journal of the Irish Dental Association, researchers confirm the potential tooth-protecting benefits of chewing gum, but also reinforce that this should be practiced in conjunction with other, more traditional preventive methods.
Sugar Alcohols in Orbit Gum
Orbit's sugar-free gum is sweetened with either sorbitol or xylitol, depending on which variety you choose. Both sweeteners are examples of sugar alcohols, which are commonly used as sugar substitutes. As the Calorie Control Council explains, these sugar substitutes provide significantly fewer calories per gram than carbohydrates and don't promote tooth decay.
This means that Orbit isn't technically carb-free gum — it's the carbohydrate content in the polyols that makes it taste sweet — but it can be better for your teeth and your waistline than a high-calorie gum containing sugar.
One warning about these sweeteners: If you have dogs, don't feed them anything containing xylitol — even Orbit gum — no matter how much you might want to freshen the dog's breath. As the Food and Drug Administration and numerous other organizations note, there have been reports of dogs becoming very ill or even dying after consuming products containing xylitol — not only gums like Orbit but also breath mints, ice cream, some nut butters and many other foods.
Xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs. If you think your dog has eaten xylitol, take it to a pet emergency clinic right away.
- Calorie Control Council: "Polyols"
- Food and Drug Administration: "Paws Off Xylitol; It's Dangerous for Dogs"
- Orbit Gum: "Orbit Gum"
- Journal of Clinical Dentistry: "Crossover Clinical Investigation of a Whitening Chewing Gum for Inhibiting Dental Stain Formation in Conjunction With Tooth Brushing"
- Journal of the American Dental Association: "The Effect of Saliva on Dental Caries"
- Journal of the Irish Dental Association: "The Oral Health Benefits of Chewing Gum"
- USDA: "Orbit White"
- USDA: "Orbit, Sugarfree Gum, Wintermint"