Laurie DeRosa RDH
XYLITOL is a natural ingredient that can help to reduce bacteria and fight tooth decay. It first became popular in Europe as an alternative for people with diabetes. It is found in natural resources such as birch trees, corn, vegetables and fruits. The most common source today is corn cobs and corn stalks. The body makes 5-10 grams of xylitol every day.
How Xylitol Works
Xylitol works by preventing the bad bacteria in your mouth from making acids. When this occurs the bacteria cannot stick to each other or our teeth. The bacteria cannot talk to each other thereby preventing the formation of biofilm. Research shows that xylitol starves the unhealthy bacteria which allows the mouth to re-mineralize teeth that are damaged, which in turn makes the teeth better able to resist decay.
Xylitol is safe for diabetics, has a glycemic index of 7, and does not use insulin for metabolism. It has only 9.6 calories per teaspoon vs. 15 calories for regular sugar.
Since the bacteria that causes tooth decay is transmissible it has been recommended that a mother use Xylitol daily for the first two years of their child’s life. Children whose mother used Xylitol are less likely to need teeth restored at age five.
Xylitol can be found in lozenges, chewing gum, mouth rinses, and toothpaste. These products can be found at your local health food store. It is easiest to get your daily dose of Xylitol by chewing gum. It is important that when you are shopping for these products that you read the ingredient label and check that Xylitol is at the top of the list. You need only to chew a piece of gum for five minutes or less. When the flavor is gone, all the xylitol is released. It is best if we get at least 3 doses of xylitol per day, however we should strive for 5.
To review, the key benefits of Xylitol are:
- helps to prevent the formation of bacteria and dental plaque
- helps to reduce the risk of tooth decay
- helps to make tooth enamel stronger
Consuming 6 grams or more daily will help protect your teeth.
Laurie DeRosa RDH is a Registered Dental Hygienist for biological dentistry National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, an integrative medicine and dental center serving the Washington DC metro area. Using the latest in dental technology, her goal is to help the dental patient understand the important connection between their oral health and their overall health.