Sugar is well-known for being an unhealthy ingredient affecting oral health and general health negatively. Sugar-free sweeteners are becoming increasingly popular, and xylitol tastes and looks like sugar but doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes and has about 40% fewer calories. Because xylitol is found in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables, it’s considered a natural product. Some studies have suggested it has other benefits that include improving dental health.
Xylitol is often present in products that include:
Technically, xylitol is a sugar alcohol, but this isn’t the same alcohol that you drink, so it is perfectly safe for use, even for children.
Studies have found that xylitol can help to boost oral health and that it helps to prevent tooth decay because of its effect on harmful bacteria in the mouth. One strain of oral bacteria linked to tooth decay is called Streptococcus mutans, and it is found in dental plaque, a sticky biofilm that forms over teeth between brushing and flossing.
While it is normal to have some dental plaque, the immune system will begin to attack the bacteria in more excessive levels of plaque buildup and which can lead to gum disease or gingivitis. Without treatment, periodontitis may develop, a severe gum infection that can cause tooth loss and negatively affect overall health.
The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars found in food but are unable to use xylitol for energy. When we replace sugar with xylitol, it reduces the food available for harmful bacteria, but these bacteria will still ingest the xylitol.
Once the bacteria have ingested xylitol, they cannot absorb sugars any longer, and consequently, they die. When there are fewer harmful bacteria in the mouth, less acid is produced, so the mouth maintains a more neutral pH level. As a result, there is less enamel destruction, and xylitol has been found to help rebuild the enamel to some extent and may help to reverse small signs of tooth decay.
Chewing xylitol chewing gum can help to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth, while benign or helpful bacteria remain constant. Using xylitol to replace sugar can help to reduce tooth decay and cavities.
Daily usage of xylitol is safe and effective, but excessive consumption can cause abdominal problems, including diarrhea. Xylitol gum isn’t harmful if swallowed accidentally. However, if you have a dog, make sure your child knows not to give it any xylitol products as it is toxic for dogs.
Make your appointment today to learn about our practice. We offer a comprehensive dental care for kids and teens in Brooklyn NY. Come visit our kids dentistry center to get the care you need in the safe and reassuring hands of the best pediatric dentists in Brooklyn. For more information about our services and treatment options offered by our dentistry practice schedule an appointment online or call as at: 718-339-1810
Pediatric Dentistry Center
2148 Ocean Ave, Ste 401A
Brooklyn, NY 11229