The Oral Benefits of Xylitol

Published on April 18, 2013 by

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that helps prevent cavities. Xylitol, when compared with other sugar alcohols such as mannitol or sorbitol, shows the greatest promise for cavity prevention. It is equal in sweetness and volume to sugar and the granular form can be used in numerous different ways.

Xylitol inhibits the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities. It is able to do this because the bacteria cannot utilize xylitol to grow. Over time with the use of xylitol, the quality of the bacteria in the mouth changes and fewer decay-causing bacteria are able to survive on the surfaces of the teeth. Thus, less plaque forms and the level of acid attacking the tooth surface is lowered.

Xylitol is most often found in chewing gum and mints. The ingredient list on each particular brand must be checked to know if the product contains xylitol. As a rule of thumb, for the product to have the correct amount of xylitol to be cavity-preventing it must be listed as the first ingredient.

Xylitol gum or mints must be used 3-5 times each day for a total intake of 5 grams. Because frequency and duration of exposure are important, gum should be chewed for at least five minutes and mints should be dissolved. Xylitol has been approved for safety by a number of agencies including the FDA. The only caution for xylitol users is its toxicity to animals, specifically to dogs. It is very important to keep xylitol products away from all pets as it can be fatal if ingested.

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