Dental patients often ask if chewing xylitol gum is an effective substitute for tooth brushing and regular dental exams. Before we answer that question, here is a little bit about xylitol, courtesy Decatur Smiles in Decatur AL:
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that was first discovered in birch tree bark but is also found in many fruits and vegetables. Unlike most other sweeteners (natural or synthetic), xylitol is actually useful for your teeth.
Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that xylitol inhibits the growth of the bacteria that initiates dental caries. It also helps alleviate plaque and strengthens tooth enamel.
Xylitol has other benefits, as well. Because it is low on the glycemic index, many of patients with diabetes enjoy it as a healthy alternative to sugar. For people with frequent dry mouth, we recommend xylitol-sweetened gum or mints to stimulate saliva production, while safeguarding against cavities.
Now, back to the golden question. Is xylitol gum as effective as brushing your teeth and seeing your family dentist regularly? Absolutely not! 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 (with a soft brush) after meals and get twice-yearly exams and dental cleanings.
At Decatur Smiles, our goal is to keep your smile healthy and beautiful for life by preventing dental troubles before they start. If you postpone dental visits until you feel pain, you risk losing teeth and most certainly will require more extensive treatment than if the problem was caught earlier.
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