This study aimed to determine the effect of xylitol on the development and remineralization of caries in vitro, and to compare this effect with that of fluoride alone and in combination. Two experiments were devised. In experiment 1, bovine incisors were each sectioned into 4 portions which were randomly assigned to 4 demineralizing agents: A) acidic buffer (x), B) x + 0.5 ppm fluoride, C) x + 20% xylitol, and D) x + 20% xylitol + 0.5 ppm fluoride. Caries-like lesions were produced in specimens. In experiment 2, carious lesions were produced in teeth. Five lesion-bearing slabs were cut from each tooth. While one was reserved as control (UN), others were randomly assigned to 4 remineralizing agents: 1) artificial saliva (y), 2) y + 0.05 ppm fluoride, (3) y + 20% xylitol, and 4) y + 20% xylitol + 0.05 ppm fluoride. Mineral loss (delta Z) and lesion depth (ld) were quantified after 4-week remineralization. In experiment 1, numerical values of delta Z and ld observed can be ranked as A > C > B > D. These differences were significant only in B and D when compared with A for delta Z, but not between any group for ld. In experiment 2, the numerical values of delta Z and ld for control UN (unremineralized) and remineralized groups (1-4) ranked as UN > 3 > 4 > 1 > 2. Compared with UN, this difference was significant in all groups with ld, but not in any group with delta Z. We concluded that tolerable levels of xylitol alone may not show a significant caries inhibiting and remineralizing effect, but may act as a caries inhibitor additively with fluoride.
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