But here’s the big news: xylitol actually helps prevent cavities!
How Does Xylitol Work?
Tooth decay starts whenever particles of food (especially those that are high in starches and sugar) accumulate on teeth. This accumulation can take place even if a person is brushing and flossing. It’s common for small food particles to be left behind. At that point, the naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth begins to digest the left-behind food, which creates acid. That acid, combined with the food residue and saliva, forms plaque that adheres to teeth. After a certain amount of time, the plaque forms holes, or cavities. Xylitol helps to prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which means that less plaque is formed and there’s a much lower level of acid present to attack the surface of the teeth. All this adds up to fewer cavities.
Products that Contain Xylitol
You can most often find xylitol in mints and chewing gum. But remember to carefully read the list of ingredients on any product—in order for xylitol to be effective as a cavity-fighting agent, it should be first on the list of ingredients. Check out the Internet or your local health food stores to find other products that contain xylitol.
How Much Xylitol Does it Take to Fight Cavities?
You should consume about 5 grams of xylitol each day for it to effectively fight cavities. That means eating mints or chewing gum (with xylitol listed as the first ingredient) from 3 to 5 times each day. If you want to try this, be sure you let the mints dissolve slowly in your mouth and that you chew the gum for about 5 minutes. You should be somewhat careful with the amount you consume though, since xylitol can have a mild laxative effect for some people.
Consume Xylitol and Help Your Baby Fight Cavities
Studies have shown that naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth is passed down from parents to their babies. This means that the number of cavities each person develops is, in part, due to heredity. But you can change that cycle to a certain extent. If pregnant mothers consume xylitol on a regular basis, it helps to reduce the amount of bacteria that the mothers produce in their mouths, which the mothers then pass along to their newborn infants. This can mean that the children of xylitol-consuming moms may have fewer cavities than they would otherwise!
Most of us grew up knowing that too many sugary treats would be bad for our teeth. But that may be changing to a certain extent with the growing use of xylitol. Just imagine what you may be saying to your child in the future: “Eat your candy, Junior—it’s good for your teeth!”
+Robert Milton writes for Jollyville Dental Professionals, a pain-free dentist in Austin TX that encourages preventative care and offers dental services ranging from routine checkups and cleanings, Invisalign braces, fillings, and more. If you’re in the Austin area, you can find them at Jollyville Dental Professionals, 11672 Jollyville Road, Austin, TX 78759, Phone (512) 918-0005.