According to the ADA, clinical studies suggest that the use of xylitol can help prevent cavities, decrease plaque build-up and improve over-all dental health in patients who use xylitol regularly. Read more. Xylitol is a completely natural sugar substitute with a reputation for cavity fighting capabilities. It’s an alcohol derived from various fibrous fruits, vegetables and even birch (wood), which looks and tastes almost exactly like sugar. When consumed in moderation, this sugar substitute can be used as a sweet and safe alternative to replace the sugar or sweetener in your morning coffee or tea.
Many health benefits but when it comes to dental health, studies suggest the following:
- While sugar breaks down and feeds the bacteria which can lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay, these same bacteria cannot digest xylitol as an energy source.
- Xylitol helps neutralize the PH balance in the mouth, helping to protect teeth from demineralization caused by acidic levels common to the American diet.
- After consuming xylitol, bacteria have a difficult time adhering to the surface of teeth.
- Xylitol helps stimulate saliva production, which carries the calcium and phosphate that your teeth need to repair damage.
Where can you get xylitol?
This sugar substitute is found in many fibrous fruits and vegetables, most people don’t consume enough of them to acquire the desired dental benefits. Xylitol is found at many health food stores in the baking aisle in crystal form (like sugar!) Many sugar-free gums are sweetened with xylitol and marketed to help dental health when chewed after consuming meals, and even some toothpastes are now using xylitol in their formulas.
It’s best to integrate gradually, as over-consumption can lead to minor gastrointestinal distress. Ask your dentist for recommendations on xylitol use. While perfectly safe for human consumption, xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. Suspected accidental consumption by canine companions should be immediately addressed by a veterinarian.