Clinical studies show that
supplementing a normal diet with regular consumption of xylitol
(xylitol chewing gum 2 times a day) is beneficial for teeth. Research
clearly established that the use of xylitol sweetened foods provides
additional help in the battle against tooth decay by significantly
decreasing plaque accumulation.
How does Xylitol Fights Tooth
When carbohydrate or sugars
are consumed acid is produced in the mouth and the pH drops rapidly
below pH 5.7, causing demineralization of tooth enamel and potential
cavities. Since xylitol is a five-carbon polyol, oral bacteria do
not metabolize it and therefore no acid is produced. This means
that xylitol reduces the quantity of plaque, creating additional
caries(decay) protection between periods of brushing and flossing.
It also inhibits the growth of streptococcus
mutans, the main bacteria associated with dental caries (decay).
Xylitol actually decreases the amount of insoluble plaque polysaccharides
that actually make plaque less adhesive to the tooth surface. When
xylitol products are used the pH balance in the oral cavity is quickly
returned to a safety level above pH 5.7, minimizing the erosion
of enamel and enhancing the remineralization process. Remineralization
is the process of reversing superficial cavities confined to the
When xylitol is consumed habitually
for several months, the streptococci
mutans bacteria are shed from plaque to the saliva. Although
high numbers may still be found in saliva, they are less virulent
and do not adhere as tightly to the teeth, and this means acid attack
is not occurring at the tooth surface.
Studies have shown that Xylitol
gum and Xylitol candy prevent the development of new carious lesions
(cavities) in both children and adolescents. Research suggests that
the value of xylitol may be highest during periods of high dental
activity such as the eruption of new teeth especially when the first
and second molars erupt. One landmark study showed that chewing
a Xylitol gum 3-5 times a day actually stops the transmission of
Streptococcus Mutans from mother to child. Itís use is recommended
for mothers with children from birth to age 2 which is the age when
the bacteria that cause cavities colonize the mouth. Using Xylitol
during this stage can actually prevent colonization of those cavity-causing
bacteria in an infant and prevent future dental cavities for the
Research suggests that xylitol
and fluoride act synergistically to increase the efficacy of oral
hygiene products. Fluoride reduces demineralization of the tooth
surface and helps to promote remineralization process of enamel.
Regular use of a fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water is recommended
as the first step in caries (decay) prevention. Xylitol should be
added in high risk individuals who are more susceptible to caries.
When fluoride and Xylitol are combined in products such as toothpaste,
the two together are complementary. Those at high risk would be
those who have exposed root surfaces, suffer from
mouth), oral cancer survivors,
diabetics and anyone suffering from a compromised immune system
because they are at higher risk of caries. By sucking on Xylitol
candy or Xylitol gum, rather than other sugar-filled products, their
risk of decay will decrease.