ATLANTA (August 30, 2012) — According to a review published in Advances in Dental Research, one of the best ways to protect your smile may be to consume more xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that has also been shown to reduce dental caries (tooth decay/cavities) in children and adults.
Milgrom et al reviewed the literature on xylitol and dental caries published after 2008. Overall, the studies supported the role of xylitol in preventing and reducing the occurrence of dental caries. A meta-analysis conducted by the American Dental Association concluded that sucrose-free gums and xylitol-containing lozenges were effective in preventing dental caries. Another meta-analysis found that xylitol-sorbitol and sorbitol-mannitol blended gums were the most effective dental caries preventive agents.
The review also included several clinical studies that demonstrated the benefits of xylitol. Clinical studies in which mothers consumed xylitol showed that their children had a reduced likelihood of dental caries when compared to other children. Other clinical studies looked at levels of Streptococcus mutans, a bacterial species that can be found bound to plaque, after consumption of xylitol. Some of these studies showed that xylitol consumption led to a reduction in the amount of plaque and levels of S. mutans bound to plaque.
Xylitol’s use is also supported by dentists and health organizations. A policy written by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) supports the use of xylitol to prevent dental caries stating that AAPD “supports the use of xylitol as part of a preventive strategy aimed specifically at long term caries pathogen suppression and caries (dmf) reduction in higher risk populations.” Furthermore, the European Food Safety Authority now supports claims of the benefits of high concentrations of xylitol in chewing gum to reduce dental plaque.
Did you ask a question to our expert? Answers are now available on our Ask an Expert page!