Popular among the vast array of sugar substitutes, xylitol is one of the more popular natural sweeteners commonly found in sugar-free gum, toothpaste, cosmetic gels, and sweets.
Although xylitol is not dangerous and is found to cause less damage to teeth than sugar, it isn’t exactly perfect. Previously, xylitol was suggested to reduce tooth decay by preventing the growth of acid-producing bacteria. Yet, according to the Cochrane Library, researchers suggests that there is little evidence that xylitol is actually beneficial in reducing the prevalence of tooth decay.Many individuals turn to sugar substitutes to satisfy a “sweet tooth,” even in processed foods, which can worsen the risk of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. While it is true that Xylitol is found in nature in many plants, xylitol is also manufactured for commercial use by the process of sugar hydrogenation, which involves the compound Raney nickel. The long term effects of are not currently known.
On the negative side, xylitol is only partially broken down in the stomach, and instead remains relatively intact in the intestines. The undigested portion ferments, and can lead to stomach cramps, acid reflux, or diarrhea. No need to worry, xylitol is FDA approved and is not considered hazardous.
Researchers in a study using 5,903 participants over ten different studies were unable to prove any benefit in the natural sweetener for preventing tooth decay in children and adults. For xylitol-containing products, including sugar-free gum, researchers did not find any significant evidence. According to two Costa Rican studies involving 4,216 school children, there was low quality evidence that levels of tooth decay were 13% lower in children who used a fluoride toothpaste with xylitol for three years versus those who used a fluoride-only toothpaste.
Philip Riley, a head researcher at the School of Dentistry at The University of Manchester, said, “Several of the studies included in the Cochrane review did not report sufficient information on the side effects of xylitol, which can include bloating, diarrhea and laxative effects. Sugar-free gums, sweets, mints and other products are well-known for their gastrointestinal effects and these should be clearly reported in future studies.”
So, maybe xylitol isn’t all it has cracked up to be! It is important to practice good oral health habits, and only chew sugar-free gum in moderation.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment and consultation.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Van. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.