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from the Academy of General Dentistry


Sunday, September 15, 2019
Know Your Teeth Academy of General Dentistry Know Your Teeth

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Gum Chewers Have Reason to Smile About Xylitol

 

In the eighties, artificial sweeteners in blue and pink packets, diet soda and sugar-free gum set the standard as "healthy" alternatives to their sugar-laden parent products. Today, there's another sweetener called xylitol touting sweet-as-sugar taste that is low in calories, and studies show it may help reduce and prevent cavities.

 

A natural sweetener found in plants and fruits, xylitol was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1986 as a food additive and is now appearing in sugar-free gum, mints and toothpaste.

 

Research confirms that of all factors studied, xylitol most likely inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the oral bacteria that causes cavities, according to Allen Otsuka, PhD, one author of a study in the July/August 2002 issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed publication of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

 

Reviewed: January 2012

 

Chapter: How Cavities Form

"I use xylitol and have recommended products that contain xylitol, such as mouthrinses, for patients with dry mouth," says AGD spokesperson John Chandler, DDS, MAGD. "While dentists need to monitor the continuing research on xylitol, I do see a place for patients using xylitol in conjunction with good oral health care."

 

A U.S. government study indicates that approximately 90 percent of all American adults have experienced cavities; 23 percent suffer from untreated cavities, which can result in serious oral health problems including pain and eventual tooth loss. Experts recommend using xylitol immediately after meals and snacks to help reduce plaque, inhibit adhesion of bacteria to the teeth and reduce contact time of sugar on teeth.

 

Reviewed: January 2012

 

Chapter: Three Tips for a Sugar-free Mouth

  • Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste handy; children can keep travel-size products in lockers or backpacks, and adults should keep a spare pair at work.

  • Chew sugarless gum, with or without xylitol, after meals or snacks when unable to brush.

  • Drink water throughout the day to help cleanse teeth of excess bacteria.

Reviewed: January 2012