Posts for tag: chewing gum

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
January 23, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tooth decay   chewing gum  
HowCanChewingGumPreventCavities

Can chewing gum prevent cavities? Yes! It can if the gum is sweetened with xylitol.

What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a type of “sugar alcohol,” similar to sorbitol and mannitol, sugar replacements that are used in many low calorie foods. Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is obtained from the bark of birch trees, coconut shells and cottonseed hulls. It looks and tastes like sugar and is a diabetic-safe, low-calorie carbohydrate.

How does xylitol stop cavity formation?
Decay starts when certain bacteria break down sucrose (regular table sugar) and produce acids that dissolve the minerals in the enamel, the outer protective layer of your teeth. When the decay-causing bacteria try to consume xylitol, they are unable to break it down, and instead they begin to starve.

A normal mouth contains a large population of bacteria, and it is better for your teeth to have more “good” bacteria of the kind that do not cause cavities. Xylitol also stops your saliva from becoming acidic, so your mouth becomes a better environment for the “good” bacteria.

Chewing xylitol gum also increases your flow of saliva. Saliva contains calcium and fluoride and helps give these minerals back to your teeth (re-mineralization), undoing some of the effects of the cavity-causing bacteria. This makes chewing xylitol gum a particularly good solution for people who suffer from dry mouth.

How much xylitol do you need to prevent cavities?
We recommend that you chew or suck on two pieces of xylitol gum or two pieces of xylitol candy for five minutes following meals or snacks, four times daily — if you are at moderate to extreme risk for cavities. The target dose of xylitol is 6 to 10 grams (one or two teaspoons) spread throughout the day. Prolonged gum chewing is not advised, so most xylitol-sweetened products contain flavor that only lasts a short time to discourage excessive chewing. The only side effect of too much xylitol ingestion is that it may have a mild laxative effect.

I don't like chewing gum. Is there another way to get xylitol?
People who don't like to chew gum have the option of using xylitol in mints, candies, mouthwash, toothpaste, or mouth sprays. For these individuals, a minimum dose is 5 to 6 grams (one teaspoon) three times per day.

So now you can add xylitol to the list of ways to fight cavities: daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings — and chewing xylitol gum.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about xylitol and other methods of preventing tooth decay. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
October 23, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tooth decay   chewing gum   xylitol  
  1. Xylitol is a kind of sugar.
    True or False
  2. Xylitol is made from
    1. Bark of birch trees
    2. Coconut shells
    3. Cottonseed hulls
    4. All of the above
  3. Xylitol is a natural “sugar alcohol” similar to other so-called sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol.
    True or False
  4. Xylitol is broken down by decay-causing bacteria to produce acid.
    True or False
  5. Decay-causing bacteria are transmitted from a parent to a child through oral contact such as a simple lip-to-lip goodnight kiss.
    True or False
  6. Researchers have found no difference in prevention of tooth decay in gum made from xylitol compared to gums containing sorbitol/xylitol and sucrose.
    True or False
  7. Other xylitol products such as mints, candy and cookies also seem to decrease the incidence of tooth decay.
    True or False
  8. Xylitol products increase salivary flow and allow saliva to neutralize acids in your mouth.
    True or False
  9. The only side effect of too much xylitol ingestion is a possible mild laxative effect.
    True or False
  10. The target dose of xylitol is one to two teaspoons spread throughout the day.
    True or False
Answers:
  1. True. Xylitol is a kind of sugar that does not contribute to tooth decay.
  2. All of the above. It is also found naturally in some fruits and vegetables.
  3. True. The others, mannitol and sorbitol, are used as sugarless sweeteners.
  4. False. Unlike sucrose (table sugar), xylitol is NOT broken down by bacteria to produce acid. Xylitol also stops saliva from becoming acidic so your mouth becomes an unfriendly environment to acid-producing bacteria.
  5. True. However, xylitol inhibits growth and attachment of the bacteria to your teeth, so it also inhibits transmission to your children.
  6. False. Systematic use of xylitol chewing gum significantly reduces the relative risk of caries (tooth decay) when compared to chewing gums containing sorbitol/xylitol and sucrose. Xylitol gum also appears to halt the development of tiny cavities when compared to other types of chewing gum.
  7. True. Use of these products seems to stop the progression of active decay.
  8. True. Xylitol and your saliva combine to re-mineralize (harden) your teeth after an acid attack.
  9. True.
  10. True. This means two pieces of xylitol gum or two pieces of xylitol candy or mints should be consumed for five minutes four times a day after eating meals or snacks.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about xylitol and other methods of preventing tooth decay. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”



Gina Piccioni, D.M.D. and John G. Hartmann, D.D.S.

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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