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Sugar-free gum or mints? The gum wins! According to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, gum-chewing produces more saliva, which clears away the natural acids and leftover food particles that cause cavities. And Xylitol – the sweetener in sugar-free gum – eliminates bacteria that damage teeth and make your breath stink. Sugar-free mints have a similar effect – but because they dissolve quickly, they create less saliva, and don’t do as much to protect your teeth. But if you have pets you should avoid anything that contains xylitol because it’s toxic to them.