The Benefits of Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar-substitute that has been around for a long time. It is manufactured from corncobs and trees, but humans actually manufacture xylitol themselves, about 15 grams every day, through normal metabolism.

Phoenix_Best_Dentist“Xylitol has two recognized uses in medicine,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix Dental practice.  “It’s used to prevent ear infections in children, and as a sugar substitute for diabetics. But dentists like it because it prevents cavities.

Yes, Xylitol tastes sweet and doesn’t cause cavities. Even better, it prevents cavities because it doesn’t convert to acids like most sugars do. No acids, no etching of teeth.

“Xylitol has another positive effect on the teeth,” Dr. Ford says. “It reduces the saliva-carried bacteria in the mouth, and that means less damage to the teeth,” she adds. “And less damage leads to brighter smiles, too.”

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in some chewing gums. These products are great for people who like to chew gum but don’t want to increase the risk of cavities or who suffer from dry mouth and want relief.  Dry mouth is a common side effect of  many medications. The lack of saliva allows some bacteria to grow faster and that can harm teeth, too. Chewing gum is a common and easy way to reduce the problems of dry mouth.

Chewing gum with Xylitol is often recommended by dentists because the double effect of bacteria reduction and no-acid conversion is a good way to support a bright smile.

According to the website WebMD, “Xylitol products appear to be more effective than products containing sorbitol for preventing cavities.”  Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol used to sweeten “sugar-free” food for diabetics because it is less expensive to produce than xylitol.

If your dentist recommends or prescribes products or medication containing xylitol, make sure you keep it away from your animal companions. Pets, particularly dogs, are sensitive to the sugar substitute and even small amounts can be dangerous to them.

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