The Dental Benefits of Xylitol

benefits of xylitol

The Dental Benefits of Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar substitute with a low glycemic index and fewer calories than sugar. It is a common ingredient in products such as sugar-free chewing gum and toothpaste and is also sometimes used as a sweetener in candy, drinks, jams, and baked goods. Research shows that it can be beneficial for dental health. Here are some of the benefits of xylitol: 

What exactly is xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, which is a kind of carbohydrate. Small amounts of xylitol are naturally occurring in fibrous fruits and vegetables, trees, corncobs, and even in the human body. It can be extracted from trees like birch, and it can also be made in a factory from a plant fiber called Xylan. 

Xylitol is used as a sugar substitute because it tastes just as sweet as table sugar, but it contains 40% fewer calories. It also has a low glycemic index because it doesn’t contain fructose, meaning that it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels like table sugar does. Excessive blood sugar spikes can cause insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes. 

What are the dental benefits of xylitol? 

Studies have shown that xylitol can reduce cavities and tooth decay by as much as 30-85%. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria that is commonly responsible for the buildup of plaque on our teeth. Bacteria consume table sugar, but not xylitol, because it is non-fermentable. This just  means that the harmful bacteria in the mouth cannot use it to produce the harmful acid that causes tooth decay. 

A 2014 study found that xylitol can also help prevent gum disease by reducing the amount of P. gingivalis in the mouth. This bacteria causes gingivitis, as well as systemic inflammation. 

This 2017scientific review shows that xylitol can reduce the amount of S. mutans bacteria in the mouth, which can reduce plaque and may help prevent tooth decay. 

Xylitol Gum 

Gum is probably the easiest and healthiest way to add xylitol to your oral hygiene routine. We recommend looking for an American Dental Association approved, sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals aids in cleaning food debris from your teeth and helps your mouth produce more saliva, which kills bacteria. It also has the added benefit of fresher breath!

Xylitol is Toxic To Dogs

Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can cause hypoglycemia, liver failure, and even death. If you have any products that contain xylitol in the home, be sure that they are completely out of reach for your dog. If you suspect that your dog might have consumed any amount of xylitol, take him or her to the vet immediately. 

Give us a Call 

As you can see, there are many dental benefits of xylitol. But it’s still important for you to keep up with your regular oral hygiene and your biannual dental checkups with us at Hicks Dental Group in Prescott. If it’s been more than 6 months since your last appointment, give us a call today. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay