Xylitol Dental Benefits
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that has been shown to help prevent cavities, especially for those who have a moderate to high risk for tooth decay. It is just as sweet as sugar and can be used as a sugar replacement. You may find it in foods such as cereals, puddings, ketchup, syrups, and hot beverages. However, it is most commonly found in chewing gums and lozenges.
Xylitol inhibits the growth of bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. This happens because the bacteria cannot use xylitol to metabolize. Eventually, after using xylitol over time, the bacteria in the mouth change and there are fewer decay-causing bacteria that can survive on the tooth surface. This means less plaque builds up on the teeth and fewer cavities!
When buying chewing gums and lozenges, look to see if xylitol is listed as an ingredient. If it is listed as the first ingredient, it generally has enough xylitol to help prevent decay. Be sure to use the xylitol gum or mints 3-5 times daily (5 grams). Chew gum for at least 5 minutes each time and allow lozenges to dissolve in the mouth.
Xylitol can have a laxative effect as well. But the amount needed to help prevent tooth decay is generally lower than the amount that would cause a laxative effect.
Examples of xylitol chewing gums are Ice Breakers Ice Cubes and Mentos. They come in many flavors. Examples of lozenges are Xylimeltes and Zollipops. Zollipops are a great after-meal treat for kids, as they are lollipops.