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Xylitol – a natural, anti-cavity sugar

2 November 2017

The natural, fluoride-free toothpastes become more and more popular. One of their ingredients often happens to be xylitol, the so-called sugar alcohol. How is it acquired? What effects does it have on our mouth cavity?

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sugar, acquired mostly from birch trees. Its glycemix index is over 40 times lower than that of white sugar’s, as our body processes it using the minimal amount of insulin. It doesn’t ferment in the digestive system.

In the kitchen, xylitol can be used to flavour the dishes, plus it’s suitable even for the people with diabetes or glucose intolerance. It’s almost two times less caloric than sugar! According to FDA and JEFCA, consuming xylitol is safe, regardless of the dose we’ve taken daily.

Xylitol’s effects on our oral cavity

In order to consider this topic, we need to take a closer at how the cavity is forming.

There are four necessary factors of carious lesions:

  • bacteria responsible for this disease
  • sugars – in order to survive, the bacteria need sugars. When they get them, they secrete acids lowering the pH levels in our mouth, which go below 5,5. This value is perfect for demineralization of the enamel, paving the way for the potential cavities,
  • tooth susceptibility – the acids produced by the bacteria destroy the enamel. If the enamel is already weakened or susceptible to their effects, the cavities start to form,
  • time.

The saliva plays an important role in maintaining a good oral hygiene. It has multiple basic functions within our mouth:

  • nutritional – helps take care of the correct mineral composition of our teeth,
  • protective – allows us to reduce the amount of bacteria clinging to the enamel,
  • buffering – restores the natural pH levels in our mouth,
  • defensive – it’s capable of destroying bacteria,
  • digestive – contains the digestive enzymes, which participate in the first stage of digesting our foods.

Unfortunately, the saliva needs somewhere aroud 60 minutes in order to restore its pH again. That’s why snacking whole day isn’t good neither for our teeth nor for maintaining the acid-base balance in our mouth.

This makes the advantage of xylitol over the regular sugars more prominent. Because it doesn’t go through fermentation, the bacteria in our mouth cannot turn it into acid. It helps restore the right pH level within our oral cavity. Moreover, it enhances absorption of calcium salts, fluorides and phosphates by the structure of the enamel, strengthening it and making it more resistant against the bacteria.

Xylitol helps protect the teeth from the cavities thanks to its ability to enhance the saliva production, as well, with the positive effects of the saliva already being mentioned in this article. Its properties improve the nutritional and buffering functions of the saliva. Maybe this will make a chewing gum containing this sugar more worthwhile?

Over 300 scientific research proved that xylitol is able to push the cavities back by even 50%.

When should we start treating cavities?

Don’t wait with the treatment until the black spots will start to appear on your teeth! The prophylaxis can be started since the first years of our lives. For example, we can rub xylitol into our child’s milk teeth or buy them a toothpaste which, aside of fluoride, will also contain this sugar.

According to the research, chewing a xylitol gum during pregnancy reduces the probability of the cavities appearing around the age of five by 70%! Perhaps the preventive measures should be taken even before the baby is born? However, if a child will feel like eating something sweet, it’s worth giving them a candy or lollipop with a xylitol. Not only it will be less harmful than the regular sugar, but it will also help us prevent the carious lesions.

Xylitol is a substance which has been praised by the dentistry market for many years now. It didn’t become popular until the recent years though. Try out one of our products containing xylitol – you will surely notice its positive effect on the teeth.

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