Want to prevent dental decay? Now you can! XYLITOL - What is it? How does it work? What is it used for?
Xylitol tastes sweet but, unlike sugar, it is not converted in the mouth to acids that cause tooth decay.
Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars we eat. When you eat food containing ordinary sugar (sucrose), it gives bacteria on your teeth energy, allowing them to multiply and start making acids that can eat away the enamel on the teeth. This “acid attack” causes tooth decay and cavities to begin to form.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay.
Let us shed some light on this incredible ingredient for you. We’ve included a comprehensive look at xylitol below.
What is it?
Xylitol is an all-natural sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables, including raspberries and plums. It’s completely natural and is even produced by the human body during normal metabolism. It is extracted from birch wood to make medicine. It has been found to be promising in reducing dental caries disease and also reversing the process of early caries. Xylitol is widely used as a sugar substitute and in "sugar-free" chewing gums, mints, and other candies.
How does it work?
Xylitol reduces the levels of bacteria in plaque and saliva by disrupting their energy production processes, leading to futile energy cycle and cell death. It reduces the adhesion of these microorganisms to the teeth surface and reduces their acid production potential. It also acts against some bacteria that cause ear infections.
For prevention of cavities in adults and children: A wide range of doses has been used. Typically, doses are around 6 grams per day divided into three to five doses, usually given as candies or chewing gum. It is recommended that xylitol gum be chewed for 10 to 20 minutes after meals.
Repairing damaged enamel
Research has shown that the use of xylitol also helps repair damage to the enamel. Saliva in itself protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva, in particular, contains all the components needed to repair early cavities.
The dental benefits of xylitol also include saliva. Saliva that has xylitol is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, plaque pH rises. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to move into those parts of enamel that are weak.
The bottom line, as a sweetener, xylitol is an excellent choice. Studies show that xylitol has actual health benefits. It doesn't spike blood sugar or insulin, starves the plaque-producing bacteria in your mouth and feeds friendly microbes in your digestive system.
If you're looking for a healthier alternative to regular sugar, that gives the added bonus of preventing dental decay, give xylitol a try.
Ref Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 2014; 6: 89–94