Sugar-free polyol gum, lozenges, hard candy help prevent cavities

A multi-disciplinary expert panel has recommended that sugar-free chewing gum, lozenges and hard candy including xylitol or polyol combinations, and a prescription varnish with chlorhexidine and thymol could be beneficial in preventing cavities.

The panel, convened by the American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs, noted that these nonfluoride options could provide an extra benefit to prevent cavities in high risk patients when used in addition to products such as toothpaste, dental sealants and varnishes that contain fluoride as well as community water fluoridation and good eating habits.

The clinical recommendations from the expert panel were reviewed and approved by the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs.

The panel encouraged clinicians to consider advising parents and caregivers of healthy children older than 5 years who are at higher risk for cavities to chew sugar-free polyol gum after meals for 10 to 20 minutes to prevent cavities.

A polyol is a low-calorie sweetener such as xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol, which is not broken down by the bacteria in the mouth and therefore does not contribute to tooth decay.

The panel also recommended that sucking xylitol-containing sugar-free lozenges or hard candy after meals may reduce cavities in children.

The executive summary of the panel’s report is published in the September issue of The Journal for the American Dental Association.

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