Oral hygienePeople are often taught to brush and floss their teeth twice a day to prevent cavities or other oral diseases. Some estimates suggest that roughly 60-90% of children around the world and 100% of adults have cavities or another type of dental carie. These seemingly high rates of poor oral hygiene are present almost everywhere. The lack of market infrastructure and limited transportation can make acquiring seemingly simple items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste difficult or impossible in many countries. However, Sweet Bites, the first chewing gum made entirely of xylitol, was created for the sole purpose of providing an easy and affordable way for children and adults to protect their smiles from the debilitating problems associated with tooth decay.

Effects of Poor Oral Hygiene

The term “oral hygiene” can often be misleading. Oral hygiene is not limited to mouth diseases but can negatively affect people’s overall well-being. Potential short-term effects include a buildup of dental plaque, bad breath, breakouts and skin infections. Meanwhile, potential long-term effects include a risk of serious oral inflammation and a depressed immune system as well as tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and tooth loss.

The Science Behind Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can be harvested from plants and is known to reduce plaque. This would also subsequently decrease the probability of tooth decay. Sweet Bites claims that “chewing xylitol-sweetened gum for five minutes after every meal can protect a person’s mouth from tooth decay, caries and all of the consequences that follow, including increased risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Five students from the University of Pennsylvania are the visionaries behind Sweet Bites. Although the health benefits of xylitol are not a new discovery, the young entrepreneurs’ three-pronged plan to help those suffering from tooth decay is admirable.

Sweet Bites Changes Lives

Sweet Bites’ mission is to “Fight Tooth Decay. Educate Children. Empower Students.” The entrepreneurs’ plan to address oral hygiene by selling their pure xylitol gum in stores throughout India’s most impoverished areas. The organization also has representatives traveling to schools, businesses and community events to educate the people of India on the importance of oral hygiene. This includes “health messaging on the wrapper, so each piece reinforces important behaviors, like brushing twice a day.” Lastly, Sweet Bites provides part-time work to local students. This ensures the chewing gum remains distributed by members of the community who understand the magnitude of the issue.

Currently, Sweet Bites is running various funding campaigns and applying for grants to bring their life-saving gum to the people of India at an affordable price. The Sweet Bites health initiative remains limited to India. However, the company’s CEOs are working to secure factory space so that their product can reach people around the world.

Sweet Bites’ Legacy

Sweet Bites has not just created a product but has also created a lifestyle. The company provides people with a product that will keep consumers happy and healthy. The product also teaches people about good oral hygiene habits and their effect on overall well-being. With several major global issues, it is often difficult to recognize seemingly minor issues that can spiral out of control when left unaddressed. Nevertheless, Sweet Bites creates a way to help those in need, which is truly the definition of giving back.

– Sara Jordan Ruttert
Photo: Flickr

Gum Chewing gum is becoming more than just a flavorful chewy treat with the help of innovators under The Sweet Bites Team. It’s also helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Underdeveloped countries don’t have access to proper oral care. Therefore, the people living in these countries are unable to maintain the healthy mouths necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

According to the Huffington Post, close to 4 billion people worldwide suffer from untreated oral diseases. The average number of dentists to general population in Africa is 1 to 150,000. In industrialized countries the average ratio is 1 to 5,000. Due to improper care, adults and children in underdeveloped countries suffer from both deadly diseases like Noma and other oral diseases such as cavities and gingivitis, according to the World Dental Federation.

That’s where the Sweet Bites team swoops in to make improving oral health much easier. The team invented a chewing gum augmented with xylitol, a sweet-tasting crystalline substance that inhibits bacterial growth and reproduction. Chewing the gum is an inexpensive and painless way to prevent future oral problems such as tooth decay especially in young children. It has also been approved by the American Federal Food & Drug Administration.

Through Sweet Bites’ prevention of oral infections, the overall health of a person also improves. Recent research has discovered connections between improving oral health and decreasing life-threatening conditions including heart disease and cancer. Therefore, chewing the Sweet Bite gum for five minutes after meals would fight against these more harmful diseases that may not be treated due to lack of professional access.

Sweet Bites also helps communities and families looking to develop economically. The Sweet Bites Team hopes to inspire entrepreneurial women to sell the product in poorer communities which would help spur economic activity and growth. By propelling economic growth, poorer communities will develop while Sweet Bites continues to spread worldwide to underdeveloped countries.

Much of the new chewing gum’s success is based on donations from supporters. Although the invention is extremely new, the team hopes to impact 1.4 million Indian children in the near future. The more money the team is able to raise, the more kids they will be able to reach and help. If they see success and continue to raise money, the team looks to spread their idea to Kenya and South America.

Casey Marx

Photo: Flickr