We offer several treatments to help prevent cavities, including dental sealants and applications of fluoride. However, it’s important that you also do whatever you can to fight cavities on your own. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, you can chew xylitol gum. Unlike some of our oral hygiene advice, we think this is a change you won’t mind making!
Xylitol gum is a simple – and even tasty – way to improve your mouth’s decay-fighting capabilities. Read our advice on xylitol gum here. If you have any further questions, ask us at your next dental exam or call 1st in Smiles at 972-905-9266.
How Xylitol Helps Fight Cavities
Xylitol is a kind of alcohol that occurs naturally in vegetables, fruits, and other plants. In addition, your body produces it in small amounts. It is used numerous ways in medicine, including as a sugar substitute for diabetes patients and to prevent middle ear infections in young children.
It’s also become a popular sugar substitute in foods, including ketchup, peanut butter, and baked goods. It contains 40 percent fewer calories than sugar. It also helps fight cavities in several ways:
- It lowers the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your saliva
- It makes it more difficult for bacteria to stick to your teeth and form plaque
- Unlike sugar, your body won’t convert it to acids that damage your tooth enamel, leaving it susceptible to damage
- It can help your body better absorb calcium, which makes your teeth stronger and more resistant to decay
Xylitol Gum Offers Many Advantages
Gum isn’t the only way you can consume xylitol for its dental benefits. There are a growing number of products on the market, including mints, mouth sprays, mouthwash, toothpaste, and even nasal sprays. However, we think gum offers several advantages.
Xylitom gum is:
- Portable – It’s small enough to fit easily in a pocket or purse, so you can carry it around with you and chew a piece after every meal.
- A Saliva Stimulus – Like other sugar-free gums, the simple act of chewing increases your saliva production. Saliva fights cavities by washing away bits of food. It also helps freshen your breath and prevent dry mouth.
- Enjoyable – Perhaps most important, xylitol gum comes in many great flavors. So chances are, you won’t mind adding it to your diet.
How to Pick a Xylitol Gum
The more xylitol your gum contains, the better it will fight cavities. Ideally, your gum will deliver at least one gram of xylitol in each piece. Read the label and see if xylitol is listed as the first ingredient. If possible, avoid gums that also contain other sweeteners like manitol and sorbitol. If other sweeteners are listed, make sure they are listed after xylitol.
For best results, look for a gum that lists little else but xylitol, a gum base, and natural flavors like peppermint oil or spearmint oil. Other ingredients you’ll likely see include carnuba wax (a glazing agent) and gum arabic (which adds texture). While some popular brands of gum sold in retail stores contain xylitol, it may be easier to find gums with higher levels of xylitol at health food stores.
More Tips for Fighting Cavities With Xylitol Gum
To get the maximum benefit from your xylitol gum, chew a piece three to five times a day, chewing for at least five minutes each time.
- DO look for a gum that also contains CPP-ACP (casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate), a substance that helps remineralize your tooth enamel. CPP-ACP is also known by the trademarked name Recaldent.
- DON’T use xylitol gum as a substitute for brushing and flossing.
- DON’T chew that contains citric acids, as they counteract xylitol’s positive effects.
If you’d like to learn more about xylitol gum, ask at your next exam or just give us a call at 972-905-9266.