Can the Sugar Substitute Xylitol Reduce Cavities?

Visiting your dental clinic in Montreal for regular checkups and cleanings is one of the best ways to fight tooth decay, but did you know that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can also help prevent cavities? Chewing gum encourages the flow of saliva, washing away food particles and neutralizing acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth. Recent studies have shown that Xylitol, an ingredient found in some sugarless gums, mints and candy, may also prevent cavities.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is found in many plants and fruits. It has been used in chewing gums for decades. It breaks down differently than sugars like sucrose, glucose and fructose and is believed to inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause decay. These bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, cannot use xylitol to grow. With the daily use of Xylitol the type of bacteria in the mouth changes, leading to fewer cavity-causing bacteria on the surfaces of teeth. This means that the production of harmful acids and plaque are reduced as well.  Xylitol may also prevent these bacteria from transferring from mother to child. According to the ODHA, several dental associations as well as Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognize the benefits of xylitol and approve its use for oral care.

How Much Xylitol Do You Need to Fight Cavities Effectively?

A total intake of five grams of Xylitol per day is considered optimal for preventing tooth decay. The frequency and duration of use of Xylitol is also vital for effective cavity prevention. Gum should be chewed for at least five minutes and mints should be dissolved completely in the mouth, 3-5 times daily. Your Westmount dentist or hygienist at your dental clinic in Montreal can determine whether Xylitol is right for you and advise you on how to properly use it to prevent cavities. Many dental clinics in Montreal offer Xylitol products for sale right in the office.

Side Effects of Xylitol

Xylitol is safe and effective for all ages and it tastes good too, but there are some side effects that can occur if you ingest too much. Excessive consumption can have a laxative effect and may lead diarrhea and abdominal distress. It’s also important to keep in mind that gum, mints and candy are a choking hazard for children under the age of five. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, so make sure to keep it out of the reach of pets and children.

Contact your dental clinic in Montreal to find out more about the benefits of using Xylitol to prevent cavities.