The use of sorbitol- and xylitol-sweetened chewing gum in caries control

J Am Dent Assoc. 2006 Feb;137(2):190-6. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.2006.0144.


Background: The author compared the caries-inhibitory action of sorbitol- and xylitol-sweetened chewing gum and assessed the role of these products in caries prevention.

Types of studies reviewed: The author reviewed studies including randomized field trials with substantial numbers of participants and observational studies. He did not review case studies. He found studies through a MEDLINE search and by hand searching.

Results: When compared with sugar-sweetened gum, sorbitol-sweetened gum had low cariogenicity [corrected] when it was chewed no more than three times per day. Xylitol-sweetened gum was noncariogenic in all of the protocols tested. Some studies claimed that xylitol-sweetened gum had an anticariogenic effect, though these claims need further study. There also is good evidence that when mothers of infants and young children chew xylitol-sweetened gum, it will block transmission of mutans streptococci from mother to child.

Clinical implications: The evidence is strong enough to support the regular use of xylitol-sweetened gum as a way to prevent caries, and it can be promoted as a public-health preventive measure. Chewing xylitol-sweetened gum, especially for patients who like chewing gum, can be fitted readily into a regimen that includes frequent fluoride exposure, good oral hygiene and regular dental appointments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chewing Gum*
  • Dental Caries / microbiology
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sorbitol / therapeutic use*
  • Streptococcus mutans / growth & development
  • Sweetening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Xylitol / therapeutic use*


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Chewing Gum
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol