How to Enjoy Preventing Tooth Decay

Enjoy a sweet treat without the worries of causing tooth decay.  This sweet, effective alternative sweetener is Xylitol.  Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is derived from plant fibers such as fruits, vegetables, birch trees and corn cobs.  Humans consume about 8 to 10 grams daily in our diet, and it is naturally synthesized in the liver, which is essential for the conversion of food to energy.  The beauty of xylitol is that it is non-fermentable by oral bacteria because it consists of a 5-carbon chain, and bacteria need a 6-carbon chain food source to metabolize, cell divide and colonize.  The sweetener xylitol tricks the bacteria into attempting to use it as a food source, but it cannot digest it and use it for energy.  The xylitol also encapsulates the existing bacteria and reduces their stickiness, thus reducing the cavities.

Think about what this means for dentistry.  Studies show that Xylitol effective in reducing oral bacteria and dental decay when using it on a daily therapeutic dose for 6 months, and it has a lasting effect for two years when discontinued.  The recommended exposure protocol for xyletol is five times daily, at a minimum of 1 gram per exposure.  Strive for five!  The exposure time is five minutes, with no rinsing or eating for 15 minutes to allow the oral bacteria to bathe and ingest the xylitol.

Xylitol products vary, so reading labels is important.  For example, if the label on the product lists other natural sugarless sweeteners such as sorbitol (which can still be digested by MS), the xylitol may loose its effectiveness due to the competition with the other sweeteners.  When reading product labels, make sure that xylitol is the first ingredient and that no other sweeteners are listed.

Xylitol addresses 4 areas of concern for dentist:

  1. Reduces Oral Bacteria
  2. Increases saliva flow
  3. Raises the pH of saliva (bacteria need an acidic environment to create decay)
  4. Remineralizes the enamel by helping with the uptake of calcium

Typically xylitol products include chewing gum, mints, candy, toothpaste, and mouthrinses.  Xylitol testing has found the sweetener to be completely safe for all ages, but exceeding 40 grams per day may cause a laxative effect until the body adjusts.  It is important to note that dogs and other pets cannot tolerate Xylitol, and it is recommended that you keep it away from all pets.


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233


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