Sep
25
2012

Xylitol for Dental Health

Our goal at Mt. Tabor Dental is to help you maintain the best dental health possible through dental treatment and preventative dental care. In addition to regular dental appointments and daily brushing and flossing, one of the ways we’ve found to help our patients prevent tooth decay and resulting cavities is the use of xylitol in its various forms.

Xylitol Helps Prevent Cavities

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that mimics the taste of sugar without the consequences of cavities. Xylitol can be commonly found in products like toothpaste, mouthwash, varieties of candy, and chewing gum and is made from corn cobs, fruit, and birch trees.

A natural compound, xylitol has five carbon atoms where regular sugar has six. While overall this doesn’t effect the human body’s response to the compound as far as the quality of sweetness, the bacteria that lives in our mouths have a significant reaction to this difference.

Xylitol Reduces Harmful Bacteria

By design, our mouths contain forms of bacteria that can be considered both good and bad. The good bacteria aids in the digestion of food, helping provide our bodies with essential nutrients as we eat and drink throughout the day.

Although xylitol provides a sweetness that is similar to sugar, it is a natural compound that can help reduce dental cavities. When harmful bacteria encounters sugar molecules, it takes advantage of the opportunity to create aciid that destroys tooth enamel – this leads to the formation of tooth decay.

However, when harmful bacteria encounter xylitol molecules, the bacteria cannot digest the xylitol and ends up dying. Strep mutans is a form of harmful bacteria that has been linked in recent research to the development of heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. Strep mutans produces the acid that forms plaque on teeth, which can eventually lead to gum disease (also known as periodontal disease).

Xylitol for All Ages

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) acknowledges the beneficial use of xylitol for the prevention of cavities for children, adolescents, and those with special needs when it comes to dental care.

However, xylitol isn’t only for young people. An article in the  Journal of the American Dental Association reviewed the findings of 19 research studies that explored the possible benefits of using sorbitol and xylitol to prevent tooth decay. This 2008 study found that the use of xylitol was far more effective in getting rid of harmful bacteria than any other component studied. One of the ways xylitol has been proven effective is through chewing gum, which is known to be used by adults of all ages on a regular basis.

The use of xylitol not only helps prevent dental cavities, but has also been found to prevent sinusitis, ear infections and even heart disease and arthritis. Although beneficial to overall and dental health, xylitol needs to be used in moderation – five grams daily is the recommended amount for maximum effects. To find out more about the use of xylitol for good dental health, visit the Portland Oregon dentists at Mt. Tabor Dental Care – call 503-236-1449 for your personal appointment!

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