As more research comes out about the different ways in which sugar negatively affects your body, alternative sweeteners are becoming increasingly popular. Today, we’d like to talk about one sugar substitute that’s actually a sweet deal: xylitol. A growing amount of research suggests that xylitol not only functions as an alternative to sugar, but that it may even keep your teeth healthy and strong!
How Does Xylitol Work?
Xylitol is a natural sweetener made from the fibrous part of plants. Although it tastes sweet, it doesn’t act like sugar once it’s consumed. Bacteria in your mouth break down table sugar and turn it into acid, which wears away tooth enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay. Xylitol does not break down the same way, and in fact, actually helps maintain a neutral pH in your mouth. Bacteria cannot consume xylitol like they do sugar, which limits their growth. With xylitol, you can enjoy the sweet flavor of sugar without the risk of wearing down your tooth enamel or getting cavities.
Research also shows that xylitol stimulates saliva production. While saliva may not seem important to your dental health, it actually functions as your body’s first line of defense. Xylitol causes increase the amount of saliva in your mouth which can help break down bad bacteria and wash away food particles.
Where Do I Find Xylitol?
One of xylitol’s most common uses is as a sweetener in sugar-free gum. We often recommend this to our patients, as chewing sugar-free gum can help freshen your breath and clean your teeth at the same time.
The next time you find yourself craving something sweet, consider an alternative to sugar like xylitol. If you have more questions about how to satisfy your sweet tooth without harming your teeth with sugar, call our office and one of our knowledgeable team members would be happy to speak with you further!Contact Us