Do you love sweets? Do you take 2-3 lumps in your tea or coffee? If you answered yes to these two questions, you are at heightened risk of tooth decay. Whether you already have fillings or not, your teeth are being destroyed by bacteria. The bacteria that live in your mouth live off of, and proliferate in the presence of carbohydrates, especially refined sugars like sucrose, glucose and sucralose, and create acidic by products when they digest these substances. These by products are what causes tooth decay. Xylitol is a good substance to replace these sugars with.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a substance that can be found in the fibres of most plants, and is around in especially high quantities in the bark of certain trees (like aspens and birches). It’s a sweet white crystalline powder, but it has a carbon chain that bacteria cannot feed off of, indeed, this sweetener even has slight antibacterial properties. Xylitol is low in calories and is diabetic friendly. It rids the mouth of biofilm while feeding bacteria that is good for the teeth and that is compatible with the oral cavity.
Benefits of xylitol
If you eat xylitol instead of other sugars, an oral environment will form that is beneficial to you. While bacteria that cause tooth decay will be effectively starving because of lack of digestible foods, xylitol that is dissolved in the saliva causes a nutrient rich environment to form by feeding bacteria that do not make acidic by products. Over time, as the plaque causing bacteria starve, the makeup of the saliva and the tooth surfaces will be free from these pesky cavity causing nuisances.
The benefits of eating xylitol are:
- Eliminates plaque causing bacteria
- Cleans the saliva
- Contributes to harder, shinier teeth
- Reduces the risk of cavities
- Stops the spread of periodontitis
- Can help reduce the effects of allergies
- Is helpful at stopping tooth sensitivity
- Can help remineralize white splotches, especially after orthodontic treatment
- Reduces oral thrush and yeast infections in the mouth
Where can I find it?
Xylitol is becoming picked up by the mass media and is available in more and more stores. Health food stores are already aware of the possibilities that xylitol holds, and there are several brands available in such establishments. Some supermarkets, ones with bigger health food or diabetic friendly sections will also carry products that are sweetened with xylitol, and may sell the substance itself. Be aware that xylitol is more expensive than sugar, but you can use less of it, as the taste is quite sweet.