What Is Xylitol?

Tooth decay is a serious problem in American children. Twenty-five percent of young children from 2 to 5 and 50 percent of children 12 to15 suffer tooth decay. Americans miss 51 million hours of school and 164 million hours of work due to dental issues. Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute that can help fight off cavities. In today’s blog your Ankeny, IA, family dentist, Dr. Ericka Peddicord, discusses xylitol.

Is Xylitol A Chemical?

Xylitol is not a chemical substance like aspartame, sucralose, or Splenda®. Your body produces xylitol while metabolizing other food sources. Xylitol can be found in every day foods such as fruits and vegetables, lettuce, berries, and mushrooms. Although it provides the same sweetness as sugar, it has 40 percent fewer calories and will not raise blood pressure. The use of xylitol as a sweetener in food has been deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and the World Health Organization.

How Does Xylitol Protect Your Teeth?

Our mouths contain over 700 strains of bacteria, most of which are harmless. Streptococcus mutans is a harmful bacteria found in the human mouth and the major cause of tooth decay. Directly after we eat, bacteria begin consuming the sugars, starches, and leftover food debris in our mouths.  As the bacteria metabolize these sugars and starches, it produces acids that eat away at tooth enamel, causing decay. The streptococcus mutans bacteria also replicate resulting in more acid producing bacteria. It is a vicious cycle. However, professional dental studies have found that chewing xylitol gum or sucking on mints containing xylitol after meals can reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth by as much as 90 percent. Xylitol also disrupts the adhesion of plaque to your teeth, decreases the acid production of bacteria, and slows the energy cycle resulting in the death of harmful bacteria.

Although xylitol is proven safe and effective, exceeding the recommended dose of 3 to 8 grams per day can cause gas and diarrhea in young children.

About Your Ankeny Dentist

Dr. Peddicord offers a complete range of preventative, cosmetic, and restorative dental procedures as well as high quality dental prosthetics. Dr. Peddicord can answer your inquiries, and provide the services you need to maintain the health, beauty, and function of your teeth. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Erika Peddicord, please contact us at 515-963-3339. Our Ankeny, IA, office proudly provides general and cosmetic dentistry services to patients from Bondurant, Polk City, Elkhart, Alleman, and Cambridge.