I’m Robert Matlach DDS of Matlach Dental in Huntington. My patients often ask me if chewing xylitol gum is an effective substitute for tooth brushing and regular dental exams.
Before I answer that question, let me 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 established that xylitol prevents the growth of the bacteria that initiates decay. It also diminishes 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 my patients that notice frequent dry mouth, I recommend xylitol gum or mints to stimulate saliva production while protecting against tooth decay.
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 Matlach Dental, our goal is to keep your smile healthy and beautiful for life by preventing dental issues 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 dilemma was caught earlier.