Xylitol – The Sweet Alternative

Prevention of tooth demineralization is a foundation of decay management. Changes to diet and bacteria levels that affect saliva pH are affective prevention. Xylitol causes, specific effects that other non-cariogenic sweeteners do not. Xylitol will reduce cavities even in the instance of high sugar consumption.

Xylitol is a natural sugar; not an artificial sweetener. It is a carbohydrate, coming from corn cobs stalks. Xylitol looks and tastes like table sugar, but contains only 2.4 calories per gram, providing 40% fewer calories than other carbohydrates.

Xylitol does not use insulin for metabolism, so it is ideal for diabetics and anyone wanting to reduce acid. In the presence of Xylitol, the bacteria stop producing acid and the polysaccharide slime that holds the biofilm together slides off the teeth.

It take the body about a week to adjust to Xylitol from sugar. If switching to Xylitol too quickly, then side-effects such as gas, bloating and diarrhea may be experienced.

“Studies have consistently shown how xylitol prevents cavaties. Plaque accumulation was reduced by 50% which is greater plaque reduction than is evident in many tooth brushing studies. Finland undertook an expensive study to measure the effects of replacing all sugar in diet with xylitol. The 2 year sugar substitute study with xylitol resulted in an 85% reduction in caries activity. Researchers also tested a daily dose of 6.7 grams of xylitol-sweetened chewing gum taken after meals and snacks each day would provide the same caries preventative benefit.”

A three-year study in Hungary among nearly 700 students showed that having xylitol sweetened candy several times each day reduced the incidence of caries better than fluoridated toothpaste or fluoride in milk.

“The classic long term study conducted Belize, included nearly 1,300 students. Several chewing gums were tested, with the 100% xylitol-sweetened gum providing the greatest reduction in tooth decay by 73%. At the end of the study no more xylitol chewing gum was provided for the students. Five years later, researchers traveled to Belize to evaluate the students who were still in the area. The caries preventive benefit of xylitol seems to have altered the oral bacteria providing long-term benefits. Students who chewed the gum maintained a 70% reduction in tooth decay compared to children in the other chewing gum groups! Studies using too low of a concentration of xylitol, too short an exposure to xylitol or too few exposures each day will not show significant results. The recommended dose is six to seven grams of xylitol daily, separated into three to five exposures.”

“A side effect reported in a xylitol chewing gum study was a 42% reduction in ear infections. This led to a research confirming the beneficial effects of xylitol nasal rinse in reducing ear infections, allergies, sinus infections and sore throats. When added to saline nasal spray, xylitol enters the sinus cavities to moisten and cleans the membranes with one important difference: Since bacteria can’t metabolize xylitol, this kills bacteria and cures infection. Continued use of xylitol spray will prevent future occurrences of sinus infections or at least lessen the effects of those that do develop. Xylitol research has expanded further into the medical arena as a treatment for controlling bacteria biofilm forming in open wounds, specifically on the feet of those with diabetes.”

Posted: Wednesday August 12, 2015