Xylitol: What Everyone Should Know About this Sugar Substitute
Xylitol is a naturally occurring plant sugar that has recently found its way into widely distributed gums, candies and mouth rinses. What makes xylitol so unique is the way your body processes it. While it tastes sweet, just like sucrose (table sugar) and fructose (corn syrup), it does not cause cavities. Normally, the bacteria in your mouth will feed on those sugars, which helps them to grow and multiply. Xylitol is different because the bacteria can’t ingest it. Xylitol basically “starves” the bacteria so they can’t grow and multiply. Xylitol also keeps your mouth alkaline, which is the opposite of acidic. If you read last week’s column, you know that acid in the mouth is what causes cavities. Xylitol can prevent your mouth from becoming too acidic.
Xylitol is great for adults and is very effective in a 5 gram per day dose. Children can also use xylitol, but the dose must be cut in half. If used excessively, xylitol can cause stomach upset. You can find xylitol in the following products:
- Ice Breakers cube gum. One piece has 1.55 grams.
- Dr. Johns “simply xylitol” candies, www.drjohns.com
- Nature’s Sweet Life mints. Available online or in health food stores.
- Spry gum. Available at Whole Foods.
- Xylimelts. www.orahealth.com
- Carifree xylitots lollipops. www.carifree.com
Yours in good (dental) health,
Dr. Stefanie Shore, DDS