Biochemical, Microbiologic, and Clinical Comparisons Between Two Dentifrices That Contain Different Mixtures of Sugar Alcohols

J Am Dent Assoc. 1985 Nov;111(5):745-51. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.1985.0201.


It has been customary to think that in a dentifrice only a few of its ingredients would be active and have clinically significant effects on dental caries, oral hygiene, and the levels of caries-inducive microorganisms or harmful plaque metabolic products. Therefore, most of the emphasis has been placed on the type of fluorine compounds, abrasives, or similar dentifrice ingredients. This study shows that such common dentifrice components as the humectants, which contribute to the texture, rheologic characteristics, and shelf life of the product, also may affect the type of dental plaque grown on the tooth surfaces between toothbrushings or during long-term neglect of toothbrushing or of oral hygiene. Commonly used humectants include sorbitol, a sugar alcohol of the hexitol type, which is used often in sugarless candies. This study showed that when sorbitol in a dentifrice was replaced by xylitol, a sugar alcohol of the pentitol type, the dental plaque of human subjects contained more ammonia and significantly less bacterial polysaccharides. It is accepted generally that ammonia neutralizes plaque acids and that bacterial polysaccharides are involved in promoting caries. Xylitol-containing dentifrice also reduced the saliva levels of S mutans. The results further indicated that if sorbitol and xylitol could be compared in a short-term dentifrice study that relied on subjective and coarse plaque determinations only, no differences between those dentifrices would be found necessarily. To demonstrate the differences between the experimental dentifrices used in this study, it was necessary to analyze specific plaque components and the salivary levels of S mutans.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biochemical Phenomena
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dental Plaque / etiology
  • Dental Plaque / metabolism
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology*
  • Dentifrices* / analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Sorbitol* / analysis
  • Streptococcus mutans / isolation & purification
  • Xylitol* / analysis


  • Dentifrices
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol