If you take a good look at some of the oral care products today, you will find an ingredient called xylitol is commonly used. Xylitol has become popular in recent times as an ingredient that can help prevent tooth decay.
In this article, we will look at why xylitol is good for teeth and the reasons why we should take xylitol to keep our teeth and gums healthy.
What Is Xylitol?
Xylitol is sugar alcohol also known as polyols, which is a type of carbohydrate that is found in many fruits and vegetables, for example, mushrooms, berries, cauliflowers and corncobs. Although it is called sugar alcohol, it does not have an intoxicating effect. Commercially produced xylitol is made from birch tree bark and corncob. It is often used as a sugar substitute as it contains fewer calories than regular sugar and its sweetness is just as comparable.
Many consumer goods that are listed as sugar-free may contain xylitol. Products that contain xylitol include candies, gums, breath mints, peanut butter, cookies and cakes.
It is Sugar – How Can It Be Good for Teeth?
Bacteria in our mouth love the regular sugars that we eat. Feeding on these sugars, gives them energy and they start to multiply. In the process, they release acids that cause the tooth enamel to erode. These causes tooth decay and cavities to begin to form.
Unlike regular sugar, Xylitol does not break down and as such the bacteria in the mouth are unable to ingest it. Without the regular sugars to give them energy, their growth is greatly inhibited. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking on the tooth surface and therefore the amount of plaque formation is greatly reduced. Xylitol’s natural cooling taste helps to increase saliva flow and thus increasing the pH level in the mouth and inhibit bacteria growth. As such, taking xylitol helps slow down demineralisation and enables the remineralisation of tooth enamel to take place.
Due to its unique characteristics, xylitol is widely recognized as a natural cure for tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, xylitol is good sugar and using it instead of the regular sugar can help to improve your oral health.
The Dental Health Benefits of Xylitol
Regular sugar cause tooth decay as the bacteria in our mouth feed on it and produce acids that erode the tooth enamel. The bacteria cannot feed on xylitol and it cannot metabolise it, thus this helps to prevent tooth decay. But what other dental health benefits xylitol have besides using it as an alternative to regular sugar to prevent tooth decay?
The dental health benefits of xylitol include the following:
1. The oral bacteria on our teeth, besides producing acid also produce polysaccharide lime which helps them to cling onto the teeth. Xylitol prevents them from producing this polysaccharide slime and thus, they cannot stay on our teeth to do damage. and Xylitol also increases the level of pH in the mouth. Bacterial thrive in a low pH environment and by increasing the pH in the mouth, their numbers are reduced significantly.
2. Taking xylitol helps to increase saliva flow which is important for the repair of tooth enamel. Studies have shown that frequent use of xylitol will repair tooth cavities, slow down demineralization and helps the remineralization of teeth. When xylitol slows down demineralization, it helps to prevent tooth decay. Thus, taking xylitol is good for people with dry mouth conditions.
3. Xylitol helps to maintain a high calcium level in our saliva. Calcium is an important component for the remineralisation of tooth enamel. Therefore, xylitol is said to help with tooth remineralisation.
4. For those who consume a lot of acidic food and drinks, taking xylitol can help neutrialise the acid in the mouth and increase the pH level in the mouth.
How to Use Xylitol to Maintain Your Oral Health
Taking xylitol five times a day is said to reduce dental plaque and help prevent tooth decay. Xylitol is found in many oral health care products as well as in granules or powder form as a sweetener. The benefits of taking xylitol to prevent decay have been seen in many research studies and many dental health professionals have advocated using xylitol five times a day to prevent plaque build-up and dental caries.
We can use xylitol 5 times a day in the following ways to help us maintain a healthy set of teeth:
1. Use products that have xylitol such as toothpaste, mouthwash and dental floss for your daily oral hygiene routine.
2. Use xylitol as a sweetener for your beverages, cakes and other foods, instead of the regular sugar.
3. Take xylitol chewing gum, mint or candy after every meal to help reduce bacteria growth in your mouth and reduce plaque formation.
Something Good for The Sweet Tooth
Consuming foods that have 100% xylitol helps to stimulate a high pH level in the mouth, making it conducive for tooth remineralisation to take place. The high pH level also prevents bacteria from multiply in the mouth. When there are fewer bacteria in the mouth, means less acid to cause tooth enamel erosion and that means less dental caries.
Consuming food and using dental products that contain xylitol five times a day can prevent the build-up of dental plaque, prevent tooth decay. Therefore, xylitol is good news for those who love sweet things such as candy, cakes and chewing gum. You can consume your favourite foods without having to worry about tooth decay.
Now you can make improvements to your oral health is simply switching to products that contain xylitol instead of regular sugar, without compromising on the type of foods that your love.
Have you tried using xylitol to improve your oral health? Do share with us your experience in the comments below.