You have probably seen or heard the term “xylitol” used in reference to oral health and wondered what it is. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that originates from plants. It is a great way to help prevent tooth decay and maintain a healthy smile.
When we eat, the bacteria in our mouths devour the sugar in food, which in turn fuels them. They begin to produce harmful acid that breaks down tooth enamel, eventually leading to decay and cavities.
Xylitol works as a defense against bacteria by stopping them from adhering to teeth. After you’ve finished eating, xylitol yields the acid from attacking your teeth. This is remarkable since the acid can assault your enamel for over thirty minutes!
Not only is xylitol a great preventative tool, it also can help rebuild tooth enamel. Although saliva protects teeth to a degree, most people eat more sugar in a day than it can keep up with. Saliva that is aided with xylitol is much more alkaline than saliva combined with sugar. With xylitol, the number of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque elevates as well as plaque pH. When the pH is greater than seven, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to shift into weak sections of enamel. This leads to frail parts of enamel beginning to regenerate.
It is recommended that xylitol, in some form, be administered on a daily basis. One of the most common ways to get it is through sugar free gum and mints. Be sure to check the packaging to make sure it’s an ingredient. If you prefer brushing or rinsing after meals, there are toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain xylitol as well. If gum and mints don’t appeal to you, there are various condiments, from barbecue sauce to honey, that contain xylitol as well.
At Wellesley Dental Group, we firmly believe in preventative care, such as xylitol enhanced products, to help ensure a healthy smile for life!