Normally, when you eat candy and sweets, you increase your risk of getting cavities. But xylitol is a different kind of sweetener that can actually prevent tooth decay! Learn more about xylitol and where you can get it.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol derived from the fibrous parts of certain plants. It has the same sweetness level and volume as sugar, making it an ideal substitute.
Compared to other sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol, xylitol shows the greatest promise for preventing tooth decay, especially among people with moderate to high risk of cavities. Xylitol is most beneficial when used in conjunction with regular dentist visits and good oral hygiene habits.
How Xylitol Prevents Tooth Decay
When you eat sugar (sucrose), you feed the bacteria living in your mouth, which are called Streptococcus mutans. Sugar allows them to multiply and excrete acids that eat away at tooth enamel. The sticky nature of sugar makes it easy for bacteria and acid to cling to your teeth, where they do damage for over an hour unless you brush and floss. This is how cavities form.
The results from eating xylitol are starkly different. Here are the many dental health benefits of using xylitol instead of sugar:
- Less acid: Xylitol doesn’t break down the way sugar does, helping to keep a neutral or alkaline pH level in the mouth so no acid forms.
- Less plaque: Xylitol creates a thin protective film over the teeth, which prevents bacteria from sticking to them and drastically reduces plaque formation.
- Fewer bacteria: Xylitol is not a viable food source for the bacteria in your mouth. With continued xylitol use, the number of Streptococcus mutans surviving on your teeth drops as much as 90 percent.
- Enamel repair: When you eat xylitol, the pH of your saliva rises above 7. This persuades calcium and phosphate salts in the saliva to move into weakened parts of your enamel. As a result, calcium-deficient enamel sites begin to harden again.
- Protection for babies: Because Streptococcus mutans are passed down to newborns, mothers can reduce the number of bacteria found in their baby’s mouth by using xylitol while pregnant and breastfeeding.
- Chewing gum, mints, and suckers: Because of xylitol’s natural sweetness, it’s perfect for manufacturing gum and candy. Visit a health food store or search online for xylitol products. It should be the first ingredient on the label if you hope to eat a decay-preventing quantity of this sweetener.
- Granulated xylitol: You can also use xylitol in its granulated form as a sugar substitute in cereal, coffee, and tea. You can even use it when baking, except for when sugar is needed to help yeast rise.
Xylitol Safety & Effectiveness
Xylitol has been approved for safe consumption by multiple agencies, including:
- The US Food and Drug Administration
- The World Health Organization’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives
- The European Union’s Scientific Committee for Food
5 grams of xylitol per day is the optimal level of consumption for cavity-fighting results. This is equal to about three to five mints or sticks of gum. Prolonged exposure is necessary for xylitol to work, so make sure you chew gum for at least five minutes and allow mints or suckers to dissolve in your mouth. Stay within these parameters to avoid the laxative effect that can result from ingesting too much xylitol.
Promote Healthy Teeth with Regular Dentist Visits
While good oral hygiene habits such as brushing, flossing, and chewing xylitol gum can help prevent tooth decay, there’s no substitute for professional teeth cleanings and fluoride treatment. Remember to visit Evanson DDS every six months or as often as Dr. Evanson recommends for your situation. The preventative dentistry work we perform ensures bright smiles for the whole family.Leave a reply →