The extra benefit of choosing xylitol products that you chew.
When considering all of the different types of products you might use as a xylitol source, don't overlook chewing gum.
Gum, or more specifically the act of chewing, offers some distinct advantages in regard to cavity prevention.
A) Chewing stimulates the flow of saliva.
When you consume a sugary meal, some of that sugar will become food for the cariogenic (decay-causing) bacteria that live in your mouth. As they digest it, they'll create the acidic waste products that are responsible for causing decay.
It's a well-documented fact that, from the time food is consumed and then over the next twenty minutes or so, the acidity of a person's dental plaque rises significantly. This time period provides a window of opportunity during which tooth demineralization (decay formation) can occur.
The benefits of chewing.
Xylitol chewing gum.
Getting your xylitol exposure via chewing gum makes an especially good choice.
The act of chewing gum (anything really) causes your body to produce more saliva. This is important in regard to cavity prevention because saliva has a buffering, neutralizing and diluting effect on the acids that cause cavities.
That means an increase in salivary flow can help to moderate the acidity of dental plaque, hopefully to the point where it is not concentrated enough to allow tooth demineralization to occur.
In the case where you can't clean your teeth immediately after eating or drinking sugary foods, going ahead and chewing a piece of xylitol-sweetened gum makes a great idea.
- You'll increase your flow of saliva at exactly that point when bacterial acid production is at its highest (the twenty minutes right after a snack or meal).
- You'll get a part of the total xylitol dosing that you need for that day.
Other things that increase salivary flow.
Pretty much anything you put in your mouth will tend to stimulate your flow of saliva. Doing so makes your body think it's about to get a meal. So, in preparation for it, it ramps production up. (Saliva assists in the digestion of food.)
That means xylitol mints, candies and the like could be used in similar fashion as gum. Gum's advantage lies in the fact that it stays in your mouth, and you continue to chew, for such an extended period of time.
Even chewing regular sugarless-gum can provide the same benefit as described on this page, with the exception that it obviously won't deliver a dosing of xylitol.
B) Gum chewing can help to clean teeth.
The act of chewing a piece of gum may help to dislodge dental plaque from a person's teeth. By no means can this type of mechanical cleansing be considered to be as effective as tooth brushing. But this action may play a small role in helping to prevent cavities. The gum should be a sugarless type. Xylitol gum would make an excellent choice.