AN IRISH DENTIST RESPONDS...
Published 10/01/2013 | 06:00
Dentists mainly deal with two diseases in the mouth, dental decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Whereas the effects of xylitol in reducing dental decay are well documented, there isn't a strong body of evidence to show that xylitol reduces the incidence of periodontal disease.
Probably only 10pc of the population use dental floss in some shape or form; and of those, only 10pc use it totally effectively. So, it is only natural that scientists would seek an alternative to flossing in attempting to stem the tide of gum disease.
Although xylitol is a natural product, there is nothing natural about bombarding the mouth with a daily disinfection with various mouthwashes. Consider the time, money and effort involved in subjecting the mouth to a pre-brush rinse, a brushing of the teeth, followed by a fluoride rinse and the exhaustive chewing of gums for the rest of the day.
None of the mouthwashes penetrate down underneath the gum where the real harmful germs lurk. The best of the mouthwashes stain the teeth, so where does that leave your pearly whites? Well, I suppose, you could follow on with a tooth-whitening rinse. And what about the effect of mouthwash on your taste buds? It alters your taste sensation.
Saliva is a boon to any biologic system and it is in a constant state of self-renewal, it doesn't necessarily need help from xylitol. Look at the economics of the situation. Floss is king. The best people floss eh . . . because they're worth it.
Periodontist Declan Corcoran has a practice in Donnybrook, Dublin 4