Benefits of Xylitol for Oral health
Have you been wondering why dental companies have started making their products with xylitol? There are many incredible xylitol oral health benefits.
Most people probably can’t or at least don’t want to do without the consumption of sweetened things. However, when you eat food that contains ordinary sugar called sucrose, bacteria present in the mouth is given something that they can feed on.
This makes the bacteria multiplication easy and accelerated. During this process, they begin to produce acids that attack and eat away at the enamel on the teeth. This is how tooth decay begins and cavities begin to form in the teeth.
The danger of cavities or tooth decay caused by the consumption of sucrose (sugar) and other sweet things has necessitated oral health practitioners to source for more safer alternatives for food sweetening.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally occuring 5 carbon sugar alternative. It has been studied in the aid of preventing cavities for over 40 years. I is is found naturally in fruit, vegetables, and berries. It is artificially manufactured from xylan-rich plant materials such as birch and beechwood. Xylitol is one of such alternative and natural sweeteners. Xylitol is sourced from the fibrous parts of plants.
NOTE: Xylitol is toxic VERY toxic to dogs and should not be given to them or kept where they can get into it.
Xylitol Oral Health Benefits
Xylitol helps to keep a neutral pH level in the mouth because it does not break down like sugar. It can stop acid attacks in record time. It is considered as more of a drug and beyond the set boundaries of the food and drug administration (FDA).
According to a source, Xylitol reduces the levels of mutans streptococci (cavity causing bacteria) in plaque and saliva by disrupting their energy production process. This leads death of the bacteria cell. It reduces the adhesion of these microorganisms to the teeth surface and also reduces their acid production potential.
There are many oral health benefits of xylitol. Xylitol benefits the teeth and overall oral health. Some of its benefits are outlined below:
- Reduction in bacteria and acid level in the teeth
Xylitol is indigestible for the cavity-causing bacteria that are present in the mouth. So basically the bacteria thinks xylitol is sugar, it eats it up but it cannot process it. This causes the bacteria cell to die.
This makes the growth of such bacteria highly reduced by as much as 90%. The inability of the bacteria to break down Xylitol, coupled with the maintained pH of saliva and plaque in the mouth makes it nearly impossible for acid to form.
Ultimately, overall oral health is better and xylitol helps to maintain oral health.
- Repairing of damaged enamel
The consumption of Xylitol is not only useful for keeping the cavity-causing bacteria malnourished, but it also repairs damaged enamel. Saliva in the mouth is useful for the protection of the mouth and the teeth. Dry mouth can lead to cavities. When saliva is stimulated, the components or constituents are known to repair early-stage cavities.
Reducing the intake of real sugar makes the saliva even more potent in doing the early stages of cavity repair. Therefore, receiving the sugar intake in the favor of Xylitol will stimulate the saliva and make it even more potent in repairing and fixing the damaged enamel in the mouth.
Also, when saliva is mixed with xylitol, the alkaline level is higher than when saliva is mixed with or stimulated by sucrose and other sugar products.
When you take xylitol or xylitol products, the concentration of ammonia and amino acids in saliva and plaque are likely to increase. The pH level of the plaque also rises with the ammonia. When the pH rises above 7, calcium and phosphate salts present in saliva start to find their way into the weak parts of the enamel. This is how the soft and calcium-deficient enamel in the mouth start to harden once again.
There are lots and lots of the beneficial effects of xylitol aside from those mentioned above, and some other benefits include the following
- Antimicrobial/ helps prevent tooth decay
Xylitol contains antimicrobial properties that help to prevent tooth decay. This is possible for the product by inhibiting the growth and multiplication of the streptococcus mutans bacteria which is responsible for causing cavities.
The regular use of xylitol by nursing mothers helps to reduce the transmission of the streptococcus mutans bacteria from mother to child by almost 80% in the first two years.
- Absorbs Minerals and Strengthens Enamel
Xylitol is also known to help absorb minerals into the enamel of the tooth and strengthen the enamel.
- Prevent new tooth decay
Using xylitol supplements in combination with other recommended dental therapies helps to reduce the frequency of new tooth decay while also filling existing incipient caries.
- Reduce sinus infection, asthma and allergies
The xylitol-based nasal spray is also known to significantly reduce sinus infection, asthma and allergies.
- Prevent ear infections
Xylitol-based chewing gums are also known medically as a good prevention for ear infections. During the chewing, the ear wax present is removed and the middle ear gets cleared. Also, the presence of xylitol helps to prevent the growth of bacteria in the Eustachian tubes that connect the nose and the ear.
- Increase strength of white blood cells
Xylitol also helps to increase the strength of white blood cells. It aids them in fighting bacteria and building immunity. It has anti-ageing benefits as well as protects against chronic degenerative diseases.
- Reduce fungal yeast infection
Bad breath, oral ulcer, stomach cancer, caused by a type of yeast infection and other harmful bacteria is also cured or reduced with Xylitol consumption.
You can see that there are many xylitol oral health benefits. The benefits of Xylitol goes on and on, cutting across oral health and every other aspect of our total health.
Xylitol products for improved oral health
Here are some great xylitol products to help improve your oral health:
- Xylitol which can be mixed with water or used for sweetening food
2. Xylitol Gum
How to use xylitol properly
Too much of a good thing will turn out bad, and less than enough quantity will not deliver the best of the result. So, to get the best benefits from the use of Xylitol, you have to know the proper way and quantity to use.
How much xyltiol do I need to prevent cavities?
For the prevention of cavities, approximately six to eight grams of xylitol is recommended for chewing or ingestion daily. For prevention of ear, nose and throat problems, a daily dose of approximately 10 grams of Xylitol is advised.
Occasional use or underwhelming use or consumption of xylitol and xylitol products might turn out ineffective. To get the best benefits from the consumption of Xylitol, you should take xylitol at least three to five times daily. Time the use to five minutes before or after a meal except if your meal itself is sweetened with xylitol.
Side Effects of Xylitol
Xylitol over time has become an approved food additive by various food and drug control agencies over the world. It is also part of the recommended cavity-fighting diet and treatment.
It has limited and rare side effects. Some of the side effects include:
- stomach discomfort caused by consuming six to eight grams of the sweetener for oral care.
- Diarrhea caused by taking a daily those of over 40 grams of Xylitol. This, however, subsides after some period of continued and sustained consumption.
- Taking over 70 grams daily for diabetic treatment might also have a slightly negative side effect.
Oral health xylitol benefits conclusion
Xylitol, generally, and when used to the recommendation is a very potent and beneficial natural sweetener for food. It is a very viable alternative to sugar (or sucrose) and is highly recommended for improved oral health for adults and children alike.
I hope after this article on the xylitol oral health benefits, you consider adding it to your diet or using dental products with xylitol.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.