Orbit is a brand of sugar-free chewing gum manufactured by the Wrigley Co. Unlike other gums, it is packaged in cardboard boxes inserted with 14 individually wrapped pieces of gum per package. The name "Orbit" is derived from the name of the sugar alcohol (sorbitol) that sweetens the gum. There are some oral health benefits to chewing sugar-free gum.
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Orbit sugar-free chewing gum comes in a variety of flavors. The gum is calorie-free (all food products that provide less than five calories per serving are considered to be calorie-free) and contains no protein, fat and only 1 g of carbohydrate. The carbohydrate comes from sorbitol, which is the main sugar alcohol used to sweeten this gum. Sugar alcohols offer fewer calories per gram than carbohydrates, such as sugar. The gum contains less than 2 percent of other ingredients such as the sugar alcohols mannitol and xylitol as well as the non-nutrative sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame K.
Sorbitol is a sugar replacer, also called a sugar alcohol or polyol. Sugar replacers are used in a wide variety of food products besides chewing gum, including chocolate, candies, frozen desserts, baked goods, salad dressings and beverages. They are useful for providing sweetness with fewer calories. They add bulk and texture to foods, retain moisture and enhance the flavor profile. Sorbitol, specifically, provides 2.6 calories per gram and is 60 percent as sweet as sugar. It offers a cool, pleasant flavor. It is important to note that sorbitol may have a laxitive effect when 50 g or more are consumed. Mannitol may have a laxative effect if only 20 g or more are consumed. Sugar alcohols do not promote tooth decay. Sorbitol is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
Oral Health Benefits
One of the greatest benefits of chewing sugar-free gum is its promotion of saliva in the mouth which, in turn, helps wash away bacteria that leads to the development of dental caries (cavities). In 2008, a research study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association investigated the role of stimulated saliva on the clearance of food particles from the mouth, neutralization of dental plaque and the reduction in the incidence of dental cavities. The conclusion of this study was that stimulating salivary flow through chewing sugar-free gum after meals reduces the incidence of dental cavities. Orbit sugar-free gum was granted the American Dental Association's seal of approval in late 2007 based on its ability to improve oral health.