Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease among children aged between 5 and 17 years. It occurs when bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar in your diet, turning it into acids that erode tooth enamel and cause decay and cavities.
Tooth decay is largely preventable, but it’s impossible to completely eliminate sugar in your diet. Instead, dental professionals recommend that you reduce your sugar intake and use substitutes like xylitol to maintain a healthy oral environment.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol compound that is equal in sweetness and volume to sugar but without the adverse effects. It is not an artificial sweetener, but a natural carbohydrate obtained from the fibrous parts of berries, vegetables, and other sweet plants.
With its sweetness and granular form, xylitol can be used in many applications of sugar, including sweetening beverages, cereals, sweets, or for baking, except when you need sugar to facilitate yeast expansion.
Using xylitol to prevent cavities
Studies show that xylitol prevents the growth of harmful bacteria – Streptococcus mutans – because they can’t convert xylitol to acid. Over time, the continued presence of xylitol in the mouth reduces the quality and quantity of decay-causing bacteria in tooth enamel. This translates to reduced plaque formation and acid erosion.
One study showed that the regular use of xylitol by mothers reduced the transmission of bacteria to newborn babies, which subsequently resulted in fewer cases of tooth decay.
Xylitol has been approved for safety by different agencies, including the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration. It has been shown to possess decay-preventative qualities, which is particularly beneficial for people at moderate-to-high risk of decay when used as part of an overall decay reduction strategy that includes good home care, dental visits, and a healthy diet.
How is xylitol found?
Xylitol is most commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum and mints. You must check the list of ingredients to determine if the item contains xylitol.
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