Hygienists are embracing the role xylitol can play in dental health

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Hygienists are embracing the role xylitol can play in dental health

Xylitol can be used to sweeten candy. Dental hygienists are enthusiastically embracing the role the natural sugar can play in achieving dental health. (DTI/Photo Marcelmooij, Dreamstime.com)
Angie Stone, RDH, BS

Angie Stone, RDH, BS

Wed. 25 August 2010


The dental profession is becoming more aware of the benefits of xylitol. Dental publications, live educational courses and online courses are buzzing with the good news about xylitol, the amazing five carbon natural sugar. While dental professionals around the globe have been endorsing xylitol for many years, the United States has been slow to hop on the bandwagon.

One of the reasons for this lag is the United States needed the right xylitol products to be available, and usage directions to be more clearly defined.

Now the products are here and the usage is simple: Use pure xylitol-sweetened oral care products in place of ordinary toothpaste, mouth rinse, chewing gum, mints and candies. Following such a plan will ensure the recommended five exposures of xylitol daily are reached and increased oral health will result.

Dental hygienists are enthusiastically embracing the role xylitol can play in achieving dental health, but hygienists are not receiving the complete picture. The missing piece is where to find quality xylitol products.

As a profession, we send our patients to general supermarkets or drugstores to purchase recommended products, and for the most part patients are successful in locating products we have suggested. This is not true with xylitol.

While there are products containing xylitol sold at major retailers, they typically are not 100 percent sweetened with xylitol. This is an important detail to be aware of.

Products where xylitol is not listed as the first ingredient are not as effective as those listing xylitol first. This can mislead patients into thinking they are getting the benefits of xylitol by using the product when, in all actuality, they are not getting enough xylitol. So where can we send our patients to purchase high-content xylitol products?

The answer is: To health food stores! These stores carry 100 percent xylitol sweetened products. They even carry bulk xylitol, which can be used to replace sugar in the diet. While the dental profession is just beginning to turn its head toward xylitol, the health food industry is very aware of the benefits of xylitol and has been for a long time.

There are also companies producing high-content xylitol products that market to the dental industry. Dental offices can order products direct from the companies and have them on hand to give or resell to patients.

Xlear, a company based in Orem, Utah, offers direct ordering, but it has also recognized the disconnect between the dental and health food industries. To help mend this situation, Xlear has implemented the “Bridging the Gap” initiative.

This program has been designed to connect dental offices and their patients with local health food stores. These connections are being made by a team of hygienist’s hired by the company to operate as product educators.

Product educators visit dental offices on behalf of each store. These representatives drop off samples of xylitol products, offer education and inform the office of the nearest store offering 100 percent xylitol sweetened products. On the other side, each store knows which offices have been connected with their store and “Bridging the Gap” has been put into motion.

This is networking at its best! Hygienists are taking their career in a new direction, knowledge is being shared, referrals are going back and forth between dental offices and health food stores, more xylitol products are being purchased and used, and the bottom line is people are getting healthier. Isn’t this what our profession is all about?

If you would like more information regarding how to get your office involved in “Bridging the Gap,” contact Xlear National Sales Manager Chad Thomas at chad@xlear.com.


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