Xylitol dental benefits on oral health has been recognized by The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) to include a significant reduction in tooth decay, as well as contributing to the reversal of cavity formation.
The Benefits of Xylitol on Oral Health
The benefits of xylitol on oral health are due to the inability to break down Xylitol, a natural sweetener derived from plants, into simple sugars that feed bacteria. Xylitol is a 5-carbon sugar alcohol substance found in certain plants, fruits, vegetables, and other natural sources. Research shows that xylitol has many health benefits, including dramatically reducing tooth decay, however, the amount of xylitol contained in many foods is inadequate to produce a positive impact on dental health. Therefore, using products containing 100% xylitol or using xylitol as a sugar substitute is recommended to attain its oral health benefits. Eating healthy prevents tooth decay.
How Xylitol Keeps Teeth Healthy
Dental cavities occur when natural bacteria present in the mouth feed on the sugars we eat which remain on the teeth. These bacteria multiply and produce acids that attack the teeth and form cavities, or decay. The bacteria are unable to feed on xylitol and are essentially starved and cannot grow. Studies show that Xylitol dental benefits include effectively decrease acid-producing bacteria by up to 90%. Xylitol also keeps the bacteria from adhering to teeth which decreases plaque.
Because xylitol does not break down as sugar does, the pH level in the saliva is raised and acid does not form. In addition, xylitol can stimulate saliva production which is beneficial in repairing damaged enamel and remineralizing teeth. Saliva containing xylitol has a higher concentration of ammonia and amino acids which raise pH levels resulting in the hardening of tooth enamel.
Xylitol use has been found to significantly reduce tooth decay in both high and low risk groups concerning cavity occurrence.
Other Xylitol Dental Benefits
- 100% natural
- Safe and effective
- Convenient to use (with products such as chewing gum and candies)
- Does not raise blood sugar (as sugar can)
- Replaces other less healthy sweeteners
- 40% less calories and 75% fewer carbohydrates than sugar
- Inhibits bacterial growth in upper respiratory passages (xylitol nasal wash)
- Can reduce ear infections (8 grams orally per day)
- Can be used by diabetics (upon physician approval)
- Easy to use in recipes (replace sugar with equal amount of xylitol)
- Delicious flavor with no unpleasant aftertaste
- No adverse reaction (xylitol and the enzymes that break it down are naturally present in the body)
- Helps with the prevention of gum disease
The most commonly used products containing xylitol are sugar-free chewing gum and candies (such as mints, caramels, and chocolates) which have both been endorsed by six national dental associations.
Other xylitol-containing products available are:
- Dental floss
- Mouth spray or wash
- Nasal spray
Xylitol is available as a natural bulk sweetener, as well. When purchasing xylitol, look for products containing 100% xylitol without high levels of acid, which negates its dental benefits. If the main sweetener is listed as HSH, the xylitol content is typically low and ineffectual.
How to Use Xylitol
At one time, the recommendation was to consume 6-10 grams per day. Now, most health care professionals agree that frequency of xylitol use is more beneficial than the quantity consumed. Patients who adhere to a “Strive for Five” regimen will intake more than enough xylitol to effectively prevent dental cavities, and frequent exposure to xylitol will stimulate saliva and replace the sugars and carbohydrates in the mouth throughout the day. Keeping xylitol in contact with the teeth as frequently as possible will help obtain the optimum dental benefits it can provide.
A suggested method for achieving 5 exposures of xylitol per day is:
- Xylitol toothpaste or mouthwash use in the morning
- Xylitol gum or candy after breakfast
- Xylitol gum or candy after lunch
- Xylitol gum or candy after dinner
- Xylitol dental floss, toothpaste, or mouthwash before bed
Candy or gum should be chewed or sucked on for at least 2-3 minutes in order to be effective. If you eat snacks throughout the day, adding a xylitol mint or chewing xylitol gum after consumption will give additional dental benefits. Consuming xylitol only occasionally has not shown to provide significant oral health benefits.
If you would like more information about the Xylitol dental benefits or are looking for a pediatric dental team for your family, please contact Kids Dental Plano Office or Kids Dental Carrollton Office to schedule a visit with one of our pediatric dentists or orthodontist.