Xylitol: Superhero for your mouth

The dental world is all a “buzz” about Xylitol (pronounced ZIE-LI-TALL),a natural sugar  which has amazing properties that are giving fluoride competition when it comes to the best line of defense against tooth decay.

In order to understand the “awesomeness” of Xylitol, a quick lesson on how tooth decay forms is needed.  There are over 400 strains of bacteria that inhabit the human mouth.  (yuck, I know) Bacteria use sugar  as a food source.  When the bacteria “eat” the sugar, acid is produced causing softening and demineralization of the enamel or early decay.

Xylitol is a different kind of sugar known as a polyol.  Its different configuration “tricks” the oral bacteria and doesn’t allow it to be metabolized in the way other sugars are metabolized. Here’s is a short list of the wonders of xylitol.

  • It is a sweet, white substance that looks and tastes like sugar but has 40% fewer calories than sucrose.
  • It is organic and all natural — found in the fibers of fruits and vegetables like corn, berries, mushrooms, and the wood of trees like the birch tree.  It is even produced in the body in small amounts.
  • It is clinically proven to be a natural enemy of bacteria.
  • Once bacteria in plaque absorb xylitol, they cannot multiply, produce decay causing acids, or stick to teeth.
  • It can take out the trash, vacuum your house, and do your laundry.  (just kidding… but it is so awesome that I bet you were believing it)
  • Studies have shown that 5  to 10 grams of xylitol a day can reduce the acid-producing bacteria by as much as 95% after six months. This can be easily accomplished by chewing xylitol gum or mints.
  • Regular use of xylitol has been shown to not only reduce tooth decay but also facilitate the remineralization of teeth that are in the initial phases of decay.
  • It also increases salivary flow which acts as an important buffer against acidity produced by the bacteria.

Whew!  That should be enough to convince you to try it out.

Happy Chewing!

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    About monicaneelydds

    Dr. Monica Neely, DDS is a practicing Dentist in Edmond, OK. Dr. Neely graduated from University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry and has been in practice for 24 years. She then completed Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) Residency, a one-year post-graduate training in complex dental cases.

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