What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a magic bullet in dental health. Though it doesn't grow enamel or make teeth more resistant to acid, it does fight off the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
A good amount of xylitol in the mouth can decrease the infectious decay-causing bacteria and thus, promote a healthier environment for those good bacteria that are less harmful to the teeth's composition.
Some call xylitol an artificial sweetener. However, it is actually a naturally occurring alternative to sugar. Our own bodies manufacture xylitol in small amounts; and in large amounts, it is harvested from hardwood trees. Taken from sustainable forests, the wood collected is broken down, processed, and purified to produce the pure xylitol. The remaining wood not used in the process is consumed by other industries.
Where can I find Xylitol and how do I use it?
Today, xylitol is more readily available. You will find xylitol as an ingredient in many toothpastes, mouthwashes, candies, and gums. Grocery store chains and health food stores are known to carry packages of granulated xylitol. Xylitol should be one of first three ingredients in gum to be an effective amount.
Xylitol is a safe alternative for diabetics, as sugar alcohols do not affect the pancreas unlike sucrose or glucose. And although other sugar alcohols, like manitol or sorbitol, exist they do not have the same beneficial effects on your teeth as xylitol.
The younger you start ingesting xylitol, the benefit for fighting tooth decay is greater. Since children are most vulnerable to tooth decay as the bacterial count is typically passed on by the mother or caregiver, it is recommended that the mother or caregiver also increase their intake of xylitol by chewing gum for several months prior to and after the time of the child's first tooth appearing.
To achieve the greatest dental benefit, it is recommended to consume about four servings of xylitol throughout the day. This can be achieved by typically having four sticks of gum containing xylitol each day, though if the gum is a smaller pellet form, up to 8 pieces is ideal. If you prefer to use the granulated form of xylitol, four to 12 grams a day should be targeted for consumption.
As a note, don't over-consume xylitol as it may cause the bacteria in your mouth to become immune to its decay-fighting benefits. It may cause gastrointestinal upset in some cases. Additionally, xylitol is harmful to pets, so please keep any product containing the sweetener out of reach from your four-legged friends.
All of TheraBreath's gums and mints include xylitol as one of its main ingredients. Click here to browse our products
* Portions of this article are taken from Shirley Gutkowski's "The Magic of Xylitol", March 2004