04 Aug 5 Reasons Why Xylitol Is Good for Your Teeth
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t despair—you can still treat yourself and have excellent dental health. It all comes down to the sweetener you choose.
Not all sweeteners are created equal, and not all of them are bad for your teeth. Although it tastes as sweet as sugar, xylitol actually helps fight cavities instead of causing them.
In fact, this natural, plant-based sweetener can even prevent plaque formation and help repair your tooth enamel. Here’s why xylitol is so good for your teeth.
Five Ways Xylitol Benefits Your Dental Health
1: Xylitol Fights Plaque
The bacteria that form plaque (oral streptococcus) love to eat sugar—it’s their favorite food. But if you replace the sugar in your diet with xylitol, they won’t get anything to eat. Since they can’t digest xylitol, the bacteria will starve and die before they can build up and turn into plaque or tartar. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to your teeth, so they get washed away by your saliva before they can start forming plaque.
2: Xylitol Prevents Acid Attacks
In the process of digesting sugar, the bacteria in plaque release harmful acids that attack your teeth and gums. These acids are the culprits behind the tiny holes in your enamel that eventually turn into cavities. They also cause the gum inflammation that leads to gingivitis. You can prevent acid attacks from eating something sweet by choosing a snack made with xylitol.
3: Xylitol Fights Cavities
Because plaque cannot digest xylitol, it is anticariogenic—this means that it fights the formation of cavities or “caries” in your teeth. Replacing sugar with xylitol can help prevent cavities from forming and keep any existing cavities from getting bigger. So yes, as long as it’s sweetened with xylitol, you can have your cake (and eat it, too) without putting your dental health at risk.
4: Xylitol Repairs Tooth Enamel
Because xylitol is pH neutral, it helps repair damaged enamel by making your saliva more alkaline and less acidic. By balancing the pH of your saliva, xylitol creates an environment that promotes remineralization. When your saliva is neutral, it’s easier for minerals like calcium and phosphate to reach your tooth enamel and strengthen it.
5: Xylitol Freshens Your Breath
When the bacteria in plaque digest sugar, they give off a foul odor in addition to producing the acids that attack your teeth and gums. This gives you bad breath, especially after eating or drinking something sweet. So the next time you reach for some chewing gum or a breath mint, make sure it’s sweetened with xylitol.
How to Replace Sugar with Xylitol
You’re probably already using xylitol without realizing it—it’s a very common ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash. But besides sugar-free mints, candy, and gum, you can also buy xylitol in powdered form. You can use it as a sugar substitute in your coffee, in baked goods, and even in homemade treats like fudge.
Just make sure to keep xylitol away from your pets—although it’s perfectly safe for you, it’s toxic to cats and dogs. If one of your pets gets ahold of your xylitol toothpaste, call an emergency vet right away.
A Bright Smile Starts with a Clean Mouth
Are you due for a dental cleaning? Getting your teeth cleaned twice a year is the best way to prevent plaque and tartar and keep your smile bright. And if you’ve been replacing sugar with xylitol, you might even get a high-five from your hygienist for keeping your teeth cavity-free!
Call Prescott Dentistry today at 928-445-1660 to schedule your next appointment.