As xylitol use is gaining popularity with the public, it is also gaining huge momentum with dentists and hygienists who recommend it as an adjunctive home care therapy. I brought xylitol into my practice about seven years ago, and in that time I have come up with some ideas how to introduce xylitol to patients. I have also learned some great tips from other hygienists who shared their xylitol patient-success stories with me. We all know that patient follow-through will be greater if they are able to sample the product before they leave your office, so here are five easy-to-implement ways to make that happen.
1) Give your patient two xylitol mints after a fluoride varnish application.
Fluoride varnish is the standard of care for our patients in moderate and higher risk categories and for sensitivity reduction. Oftentimes, however, our patients don’t like its flavor. After I apply the varnish I give my patient two xylitol mints and instruct them to let the mints dissolve in their mouth over several minutes. The mints do three things at this point: they provide a pleasant taste in the patient’s mouth; they will keep biofilm from forming so quickly after the prophy appointment; and because xylitol is a carrier for minerals, it will provide better uptake of the fluoride.
2) Give your pediatric patients xylitol gum to chew after placing sealants.
Many dental offices give chewing gum to their pediatric patients after placing sealants to take away the residual taste of the sealant material. Why not use xylitol gum for this purpose? You can be sure if you give your patients Spry gum they will not be exposed to any artificial ingredients, like aspartame. Because xylitol gum is therapeutic and the flavor will fade in about five minutes, you won’t risk your patient having any TMJ irritation from long-term chewing.
3) Discuss xylitol as a sugar substitute when counseling patients on nutrition and oral-systemic issues.
This form of xylitol therapy is a favorite topic for Jen Collins, RDH, who practices in Chico, California. Jen has been a great advocate for xylitol for caries prevention for many years. She has also found great success discussing the systemic benefits of xylitol having a glycemic index of 7 and 40% fewer calories than table sugar, making it the perfect chemical-free sweetener for patients with diabetes, insulin resistance, or for those just looking to minimize their calorie intake for weight loss.
4) Keep dry-mouth relief spray and gel chairside.
Dry mouth and xerostomia are on the rise, and often times our patients aren’t even aware of a decrease in saliva flow until we mention it. During a prophy or root planing appointment, I frequently find myself needing to use the Spry Mouth Moisturizing Spray on my patient after I’ve used the ultrasonic scaler and before hand scaling. Patients really appreciate not having the feeling of parched tissues, and it gives them a chance to try the product before they purchase it. Another tip for severe xerostomia patients is to coat the tongue and buccal mucosa with Spry Dry Mouth Gel so the x-ray film or sensor can be placed comfortably in the patient’s mouth, or during the scaling and polishing so the mirror does not stick to their mucosa.
5) Spray appliances after ultrasonic cleaning.
I learned this tip from Linda Yohe, RDH in Redding, California. Several years ago Linda asked me to come to her office for a lunch and learn, and it turns out I was the one learning from her. She is another long-time xylitol advocate and is passionate about prevention. One technique she uses to introduce her patients to xylitol is using the Spry Moisturizing Mouth Spray to spray dentures, partials, night guards, and retainers after they have gone through the ultrasonic cleaner. This takes away the chemical taste of the cleaning solution and provides a pleasant taste when the patient places the device back in the mouth. Also, the high concentration of xylitol will help dissolve any residual biofilm or candida on the appliance.
Our team of Xylitol Education Managers always welcome success stories, and we want to hear about how you use xylitol in your practice! You can find the contact information for your Xylitol Education Manager at www.XylitolEducators.com.
by Julie Seager, RDH, BSDH