One of our goals at South Waterfront Dental is to empower patients to take control of their oral health. In addition to restorative dentistry, an important aspect of our practice is our emphasis on prevention. In addition to brushing, flossing, fluoride rinses, and reducing sugar intake, another excellent tool patients can utilize outside of the dental office to help prevent tooth decay is use of xylitol.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol sweetener, often used as a sugar substitute, that is just as sweet as table sugar. It’s found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables, including berries, oats, and mushrooms. It was popularized in Europe as a sweetener in the early 20th century because it has fewer calories than sugar and is safe for people with diabetes and hyperglycemia.
Dental Benefits of Xylitol
The dental benefits of xylitol were researched extensively in the 1970s in Finland, which is where xylitol is mainly produced. Xylitol is not fermentable, so basically it works by reducing dental plaque formation and “starving” the bacteria, a type of strep, that produces the acid behind dental decay. It’s important to point out that at least 6-8 grams of xylitol must be ingested per day to get these dental benefits.
Using Xylitol Products
Most xylitol products are available in many forms, including gum, candy, mints, and even in floss, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Many popular brands of chewing gum contain small amounts of xylitol, although in order to get the recommended 6-8 grams per day, we recommend using products from companies that specialize in manufacturing xylitol products, such as Epic Dental, Zapp Gum, or Spry.
Please let Dr. Beck, Dr. Morrow, or the friendly staff at South Waterfront Dental know if you have any questions about this excellent way to reduce dental decay and improve your oral health.