Xylitol: The Tooth Friendly Sweetener
Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and taste like sugar. It is found naturally and can be extracted from birch, raspberries, plums, corn and mushrooms. Technically it is not a sugar but a sugar alcohol that is sometimes called wood sugar or birch sugar. Our bodies produce up to 15mg everyday as part of normal metabolism.
The great benefit of Xylitol in preventing tooth decay was “discovered” in Finland in the early 1970’s. Streptococcus Mutans, bacteria found in the mouth, produces toxins and acids that can dissolve teeth when foods with refined sugar [sucrose] are eaten.
Xylitol is not fermented by oral bacterial, so it cannot cause cavities [caries]. It works its magic on many levels.
Therapeutically, Xylitol is added to chewing gum or candy. The dosage is critical. To receive tooth decay prevention benefits, you must receive 6-10 grams of Xylitol per day. When reading the label of a Xylitol containing product, Xylitol should be the first sugar listed and, ideally, the only sugar component. To be effective, the Xylitol gum must be utilized several times a day over long periods – 6 months, 1 year and 2 years.
Xylitol is also to added to some oral hygiene products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes, floss, fluoride supplements.
Chewing Xylitol gum after meals is a great alternative when brushing or flossing is not an option. Anybody who is at high risk for dental decay such as people with dry mouths or those with exposed tooth root surfaces should consider this decay prevention therapy.
On a precautionary note – excessive chewing could lead to headaches and/or pain in the TMJ joint near your ear. Don’t over do it!
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