Dear Dr. Ellie,

First I’d like to say that your blog is great and a real resource for people. I’m a little confused about your comments about Sorbitol. You’ve said that harmful bacteria can adapt to Sorbitol, which is why you don’t recommend Trident. But I’ve got the Listerine that you recommend and the ACT (original) that you recommend and they both contain Sorbitol.


Hi S,

Good question about bacteria and sorbitol.
To answer your question, yes, I wish the rinses were not sweetened with sorbitol and would prefer they used xylitol (but it is probably too expensive)! On the other hand, it takes a certain amount of sorbitol to cause bacteria in the mouth to become active.

I talk a lot about sorbitol because I am concerned that people know the difference between xylitol and sorbitol. Sorbitol gives people gastric problems at very low dosage and so I do not think it should ever be eaten/consumed. On the other hand, with mouth rinses, you are spitting it out.

The biggest problem about sorbitol is that many people think something “sugarless” cannot harm teeth. Research shows that harmful bacteria of plaque (the ones that cause gum disease and cavities) quickly figure out how to derive energy from sorbitol. It takes three pieces of gum for bacteria to use sorbitol as an energy source to grow and multiply.

If you were an average person chewing several pieces of gum, having a soda, then perhaps a cookie later in the afternoon it may not occur to you that sorbitol in your gum could be making the damage to your teeth worse.

The amount of sorbitol used in the mouth rinses would not be enough to be of concern.
Besides, if you are using 100 percent xylitol throughout the day your bacterial population will be healthy.

Just be alert for the gum companies that try to trick you. It amazes me that a manufacturer can say “now with xylitol” on the outside of a wrapper when the number one ingredient is sorbitol!
These manufacturers know they cannot advertise “sweetened mainly with sorbitol and other artificial sweeteners ……but we put in a grain of xylitol and use this fact to make it sound good!”

I am glad that you are following the conversation so closely thanks for the interest, Ellie

Ellie Phillips DDS
Dental Health for Everyone!
26 Corporate Woods
Rochester, NY 14623

Categories: Xylitol

Tags: , ,

  • Dave says:

    great information. i was chewing trident thinking i was getting the xylitol benefits untill i realized that there was not enough xylitol in the gum to help my teeth. you need about 6 to 8 grams a day for it to be beneficial. i found a gum that you can get online that has 1 gram of xylitol in each stick. now i chew 8 pieces of that per and my teeth and mouth feel great.

  • >