If you're like me, you are constantly on the pursuit for natural & effective ways to optimize health and wellness. When it comes to our dental care, there are so many products, ingredients, & social fades that can truly confuse the whole oral health process. In todays blog, we all discuss xylitol, a natural sweetener found in fruits and vegetables that decreases the prevalence of cavities and gum infection.
Let's first start by discussing the process of cavity formation. Did you know that sugar doesn't cause cavities? It's true! The real culprit of dental cavities is acid. If you think back to your basic sciences, an acid can be defined as anything below a pH of 7. In our mouths, any time our mouth's pH drops below 5.5, we are at risk for developing cavities. So why do we think sugar causes cavities? Truly, any complex carbohydrate can lead to cavities. The process goes like this: We ingest a complex carbohydrate, the bacteria in our mouths metabolizes that carbohydrate and the byproduct is an acid. A biofilm is created and attaches to our teeth and our enamel (or the outer protective layer of our teeth), breaks down and cavity formation can occur.
So why is xylitol so wonderful? Firstly, cavity causing bacteria cannot metabolize xylitol and therefore acid will not be a byproduct. Xylitol also increase saliva flow, neutralizes the pH in our mouths, reduces the number of cavity causing bacteria, reduces plate build up, and remineralize (or hardens) our enamel.
We can find xylitol in gum, lozenges, mints, candies, mouth rinses and toothpastes! Some of my favorite products are from Elementa elementasilver.com/products/ and Carifree carifree.com/shop/
Are there any down sides to xylitol? Unfortunately yes. Xylitol is very toxic and even lethal to dogs so please be careful and keep xylitol containing products far our of reach from your animals!
Any questions? Leave them below!
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Dr. Jenny Perna
General dentist with a focus on cosmetics in South Florida