At the Center for Dental Anesthesia in Alexandria, we are sometimes asked if gum sweetened with xylitol is an effective substitute for brushing your teeth, and regular dental exams.
Before answering that question, let us tell you a little bit about xylitol:
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 prevents the growth of the bacteria that initiates decay. It also lessens plaque and strengthens tooth enamel.
Xylitol has other benefits, as well. Because it is low on the glycemic index, many of my patients with diabetes enjoy it as a healthy alternative to sugar. For our patients that notice frequent dry mouth, we recommend xylitol gum or mints to stimulate saliva production while safeguarding against cavities.
Now, back to the golden question. Is xylitol gum just 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 the Center for Dental Anesthesia in Alexandria, our goal is to keep your smile healthy and beautiful for life by preventing dental problems before they start. We offer a wide range of servicers, from family and cosmetic dentistry, to special needs dentistry. Schedule an appointment today.
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