With today’s higher cost of living, staying healthy with preventative measures helps you avoid emptying your wallet to pay for expensive dental treatments.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar substitute that may soon become a standard in oral hygiene. Studies show a 2-3 gram dose of xylitol three times a day is effective in preventing tooth decay that would otherwise lead to fillings, root canals, or extractions.
Here are five ways xylitol can help save you money and save your teeth:
- Prevents Cavities: You’re at risk for cavities if you’ve had one before, drink acidic beverages, frequently snack on sweets, or brush your teeth less than twice a day. All of these can give bacteria the acidic environment to multiply, feed on sugar, and create cavities. Xylitol helps to neutralize pH levels in your mouth to keep bacteria from growing in number and causing tooth decay.
- Stimulates Saliva: Saliva helps fight tooth decay by washing away harmful acids and food particles from your teeth. If you’re not producing enough saliva, dry mouth can lead to bad breathe, cavities, and gum disease. Xylitol activates your salivary flow to relieve your teeth from enamel erosion due to acids from foods, drinks, or bacteria.
- Helps Repair Damage: Before it becomes a cavity, bacteria-made acids soften and dissolve tooth enamel in what’s known as demineralization. These holes in your protective enamel can be repaired naturally when minerals carried in your saliva are able to reach the weak spots. Xylitol increases salivary flow allowing calcium and phosphate to strengthen teeth and restore damaged enamel.
- Reduces Plaque: Unlike other sugar substitutes such as sorbitol and mannitol, xylitol reduces plaque buildup and makes it less adhesive on teeth. Less plaque means fewer bacteria to cause decay and less tartar (hardened plaque) to cause gum disease.
- Protects Against Infections: Candida is a species of bacteria that quietly resides in your digestive tract. However, if you’re taking antibiotics or even under stress, the risk increases for Candida to multiply and spread to your mouth. If you have a cavity, Candida can enter your tooth and result in an infection. Xylitol helps keep Candida under control and less likely to stick to your teeth.
Don’t throw out your just floss yet! While xylitol has its benefits, it’s not a replacement for brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and maintaining a healthy diet. Most commonly seen in sugarless chewing gum, adding xylitol to your hygiene routine can range from toothpaste to sugar-free lollipops.
Robert Milton writes for Austin Dental Center, an Austin Dentist who provides services such as dental implants and mercury-free fillings. When not reading the latest in dental care, you can find Robert jogging around Ladybird Lake or taking in some live music on 6th street.