Chew on this: gum brands stick health claims on their products

When you pick up a pack of sugarless gum on your way to an interview or after drinking a cup of coffee, you could be forgiven for thinking the sticky stuff is a veritable Swiss Army knife for your health. Lately, as this article in The New York Times points out, gum makers have been boosting their marketing in a big way by focusing on a slew of health benefits -- most, but not all, related to your teeth -- they say their products offer.

By all accounts, it's working. According to a research firm cited by the Times, sugarless gum revenues were up by 6% over last year. In a recession economy, that's a lot of chewing, especially since sugarless gum makes up four out of every five sticks chewed.

The Times speculates that we're buying so much sugarless gum, in part, because it's a lot cheaper than going to a dentist, and cash-strapped Americans are trying to stretch out the time between visits.