Did you know that xylitol can help you keep your teeth healthy? Using xylitol sweetener instead of sugar is an effective, affordable and convenient way to minimise cavities. It is no secret that traditional sugar is the main culprit that leads to tooth decay. Since it is quite impossible to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, substituting regular sugar for xylitol sweetener is a more viable approach to keeping good oral care.
According to experts, cavity happens when bacteria present in your mouth eat the sugars you consume. When you eat food rich in sugar, it gives bacteria on your teeth the supplement they need to multiply and start to produce acids that damage the enamel of your teeth. Xylitol, on the other hand, provides dental benefits. Xylitol is a natural sweet substance extracted from the fibrous parts of plants. Because it does not dissolve like sugar, it helps maintain the pH level in the mouth neutral. But the greatest xylitol dental benefit is its ability to prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This protects your teeth from tooth decay. The bacteria present in your mouths is simply unable to digest xylitol. That means they cannot grow, leading the number of acid-producing bacteria to fall up to 90%. Less bacteria mean less acid, and less acid means healthier teeth! Let’s take a look at other ways that xylitol sweetener can improve your oral health.
Balanced acid pH Levels
People who have dry mouth, have undergone oncology treatment, or are aging, tend to have an acid pH. Mouth breathers and those with acid reflux are also more likely to have an altered pH. These people, along with those who consume a lot of acidic foods and drinks (energy drinks, sodas and sports drinks) are especially vulnerable to demineralization. Low pH levels cause essential minerals to leech out of enamel, resulting in softened enamel, white spot lesions, and decay. Research has shown that five minutes of exposure to a 100% xylitol sweetener helps neutralize acids and bring the pH back to a normal level faster than if left on its own.
Stimulated Saliva Flow
People who have reduced salivary flow can also benefit from using xylitol sweetener as a sugar substitute. When salivary flow is decreased, the vital mineral of calcium and phosphate are not effectively deposited into the enamel. These mineral are essential for keeping tooth enamel healthy. Individuals with reduced amounts of saliva experience discomfort in the mouth and are at an increased risk of decay. Xylitol sweeteners stimulate salivary flow, allowing these minerals to be deposited to maintain enamel strong as well as relieve the discomfort of a dry mouth.
Viable Option to Fluoride
Xylitol can help protect teeth from demineralization in people who are low risk or dislike fluoride. Those that fall into a high-risk category can benefit from additional fluoride treatments. Xylitol has also the ability to minimize the stickiness of plaque, allowing it to slide off the tooth for those who have not so perfect brushing habits. Because bacteria can’t metabolize xylitol, they will die and break away from the biofilm and not stick to the teeth.
It is important to mention that consuming too much xylitol sweetener can lead one to experience unpleasant gastric effects. So, use it in moderation. In fact, too much of anything is not good for anyone. If you experience discomfort while consuming xylitol, try using it in smaller doses into your daily routine. This way your body will have time to get used to it. Five grams of xylitol per day, over five different ingestions is all you need to improve your oral health.
And one more important thing. To be effective against bacteria, increase saliva flow and neutralise the pH, xylitol should be the main ingredient and the only sweeter you consume. Keep in mind that other sweeteners such as aspartame, sorbitol, or maltitol are considered a food source for bacteria and counteract the effects of xylitol. So, be sure to choose products that are sweetened only with xylitol.
Aside from xylitol sweeteners that you can use for baking and in drinks, there are also some products available that already contain xylitol. The most commonly used are sugar-free chewing gum and candies such as caramels, mints and chocolates. These products have been endorsed by various dental associations. Other products available include toothpaste, mouth wash and dental floss.
Considering the fact that xylitol has a low GI, this makes it also an attractive alternative to sugar for those wishing to lose weight and those with diabetes. Xylitol is a lower-calorie, totally natural sugar-free alternative that are slowly absorbed and metabolized by the body, keeping blood sugar levels stable and at the same time, helping control appetite. Research has shown that xylitol helps decrease sugar cravings and satisfy a person’s appetite. So, aside from helping you improve your oral health, xylitol can also be your best ally in the weight loss battle.