Xylitol and Dental Health

Most of us enjoy sweet things from time to time. But apart from the calories that we are consuming, there is also the concern of what the sugar is doing to our teeth. By using xylitol to replace cane sugar as a sweetener, we can actually improve our dental well being.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is found in many foods such as berries and mushrooms but which is generally manufactured from birch bark for commercial purposes. It has been shown to not only be totally safe to ingest but to also have many health benefits.

The most common use of xylitol in foods is for improving dental health where it has been shown that it can stop, and in some instances, rebuild tooth enamel that has been decayed by dental caries.

European countries like Switzerland and Finland use xylitol to sweeten chewing gum and candies and incorporate it into toothpaste and mouthwash in order to combat tooth decay. In fact 92% of Finnish day care center children are currently using some sort of xylitol product as a form of preventative dental care.

Xylitol Fights Cavities

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in our mouths consume sugars from things that we eat. Feeding these bacteria cane sugar gives them the energy to multiply and to create the acids that eat away at our tooth enamel. Xylitol doesn’t break down like a sugar and so it doesn’t feed the bacteria and the saliva remains relatively PH neutral.

Xylitol also inhibits the bacteria from sticking to the teeth and so their potential to do damage is much less. The amount of bacteria in the mouth after consuming xylitol may be reduced by as much as 90%. Not only that but because xylitol can make saliva more alkaline it can trigger the body’s own system for repairing teeth.

Our saliva contains all of the components to repair the damaged tooth enamel but our high sugar diets tend to overwhelm this natural defense. Xylitol, by allowing the saliva to remain more PH neutral allows for the amino acids and ammonia that is already present in saliva to work its way into the damaged enamel, strengthening the teeth by allowing softened enamel to harden again.

Even if you don’t like to chew gum or candies, you can still get the regular benefit of the neutralizing effect of xylitol from one of the other style of products available such as the toothpaste or mouthwash.

And, because xylitol has been shown to have a beneficial effect in combating simple infections, especially respiratory and ear infections, it is now being packaged in the form of a nasal spray that can be used alone or in conjunction with the other products for effective dental hygiene.

So next time you feel a craving for something sweet, or are making something that has lots of sugar it is worth making the simple substitution of xylitol for the sugar. Not only will your waistline thank you but you will be taking care of your teeth at the same time.