Spokane Dentist answers questions about Xylitol Gum

Written by Dr. Collins on Sep 27, 2011

Robert has been a client of mine for several years. During one of his routine exams he mentioned an article he read about Xylitol that claimed that chewing Xylitol gum could be beneficial for maintaining healthy teeth. He asked what I knew about it, and if the claims were true. He jokingly asked if it was good enough to substitute for brushing and regular dental exams. Today I’ll share with you what I told Robert.


What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sweetener first discovered in birch tree bark and also found in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is actually good for your teeth, unlike many other natural or synthetic sweeteners. Numerous clinical studies have shown that Xylitol does indeed prevent the growth of bacteria that causes decay. It also helps to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce plaque. Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria; they simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol-rich environment


What are other benefits of Xylitol?

In addition, it not only has fewer calories and less effect on blood sugar than sucrose, but xylitol also inhibits the creation of acid in the mouth. This minimizes the damage done to your teeth, as well as allowing your teeth to heal at a faster rate. Xylitol has a low glycemic index of 7, compared to sugar’s level of 83.


Because Xylitol is low on the glycemic index, many diabetic patients can enjoy it as a healthy alternative to sugar. When patients at my Spokane Dentist Office complain about frequent dry mouth, I can confidently recommend Xylitol gum or mints to stimulate saliva production without promoting tooth decay.


Is using Xylitol gum a substitute for brushing and dental exams?
The answer to this question is a resounding “No!” If you cannot brush your teeth after a meal, chewing Xylitol gum for five or ten minutes is probably a good idea. However, you should still brush your teeth thoroughly after meals and get routine exams at your Spokane, Cheney Dental Office.