Natural Sweetener Xylitol: Prevents Cavities?

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xylitolWe’ve all heard that sugar isn’t good for your teeth or overall dental health. Many try to cut out sugar from their diets, either by not drinking sugary drinks or eating sugar of any kind or by eating foods that have a non-sugar sweetener.

One such sweetener, xylitol, is put into many food and drink products – and some researchers say that this product may also be able to help prevent tooth decay and cavities.

A natural sweetener, which tastes as sweet as traditional sugar, that helps prevent cavities?!

This may be good news, but don’t rush out and buy up every product that has xylitol.

In past laboratory studies, xylitol was known to kill one of the main bacteria that cause tooth decay. For this reason, xylitol was added to many food and drink products for its potential preventative effects against cavities, also called dental caries.

But many dental health experts and researchers say that xylitol may not be the only factor involved in seeing a decrease in the number of cavities, especially among children.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener, a sugar alcohol, that is not absorbed by the body like traditional sugar. It can be used as a sugar replacement in “sugar-free” products and products made for people with diabetes. It’s often put into gum, lozenges and other candies, and because these products also increase saliva production, this too can help decrease the risk of having a cavity.

In short, xylitol may very well decrease your risk for cavities. But the research doesn’t prove that with certainty, and you would be better off continuing good dental habits – like brushing and flossing – rather than betting on xylitol.

Yes, xylitol is better for your teeth than sugar. It would be best to not consume a lot of xylitol – which has been linked to some stomach problems like diarrhea – just as it isn’t good for your teeth to have a lot of traditional sugar.

Making some changes to your diet may also help decrease your risk of cavities.

One interesting side note from these studies is a suggestion for mothers of small children. Researchers suggest that mothers, who have more bacteria that increase the risk of tooth decay, not share utensils or use saliva to clean their child’s face or pacifier. This can possibly decrease a child’s risk of a cavity at a young age.