What Is Xylitol?

Close-up of lower half of brunette female face blowing a pink gum bubble against a red wall

Sugar can negatively affect your oral health – the bacteria in your mouth break down sugar to form acid, which wears away your enamel to form cavities that can become infected. For this reason, at Troy Bartels, DDS, we advise our patients to limit their sugar intake, seek out healthy foods, and drink plenty of water in order to preserve their oral health.

However, what are you supposed to do when you’re craving something sweet yet want to protect your teeth? Xylitol, a sugarless sweetener, may be your solution! Read on to learn the sweet truth behind this ingredient found in sugar-free chewing gum.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sugarless sweetener that is made from the fibrous part of plants. Although it tastes sweet, xylitol does not have the same negative effects of sugar because it does not break down into acid in your mouth.

Can Xylitol Help My Teeth?

Xylitol helps maintain a neutral pH in your mouth by neutralizing acids that may cause tooth decay or infection. Bacteria cannot feed on xylitol like they can sugar, which limits their growth. Beyond its bacteria-busting qualities, research shows that xylitol also stimulates saliva production. Saliva is an important defense mechanism for your body, as it not only breaks down bacteria that can cause tooth decay, but it also washes away food particles left behind on your teeth.

Where Can I Find Xylitol?

If you’re looking to take advantage of the benefits of xylitol, reach for a pack of sugar-free gum or a tin of sugar-free mints that lists xylitol in its ingredient label. You’ll get a treat, freshen your breath, and clean your teeth all at the same time.

Can I Chew Sugar-Free Gum Instead of Brushing My Teeth?

No! Although xylitol is a sugar alternative that can satisfy your craving for something sweet while keeping your teeth healthy, chewing sugarless gum should never replace your regular oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss at least daily, and come see us every 6 months for a dental checkup.

To ask our team any other questions about xylitol and your oral health, or to schedule your next appointment, call us today!

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