At Neal C. Johnson DMD in Billings we are sometimes asked about Xylitol. What is it, exactly? Is there really a sweetener that helps prevent cavities?
The answer is not a simple yes or no. 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 beneficial for your teeth. It is used in many products, including chewing gum.
Clinical studies have established that xylitol impedes the growth of the bacteria that initiates decay. It also reduces plaque and strengthens tooth enamel.
Xylitol has other benefits, as well. Because it is low on the glycemic index, many patients with diabetes enjoy it as a healthy alternative to sugar. For those who live with frequent dry mouth, xylitol gum or mints can stimulate saliva production while preserving against cavities.
Is xylitol gum as effective as brushing your teeth and seeing the 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.
Of course, xylitol-sweetened products are no substitute for brushing and flossing. Patients from Lockwood, Billings Heights, and Laurel come to Neal C. Johnson DMD in Billings. Our goal is to keep your smile healthy and beautiful for life by preventing dental problems before they start! Services include family and cosmetic dentistry. Schedule an appointment today.
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