Green Bay, WI – Do you know what xylitol is, or its many benefits to your health? Dr. David Brusky, a Green Bay cosmetic dentist, touts the benefits of its use to his patients.
“Xylitol is a wonderful, all natural sweetener that has a host of health benefits,” says Dr. Brusky. “It is a wonderful sugar substitute because it has a delicious sweet taste, without the after taste many sugar substitutes have. Moreover, it has a host of dental benefits – including reducing tooth decay and plaque formation.
But what is xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol that is found in most plant material, including our fruits and vegetables. To be used as a sugar substitute or medicine, it is extracted from birch wood or corn cobs.
Xylitol is found in sugar-free mints, gum and candies, and can be purchased as a sugar substitute to be used in coffee and baking. As a medicine, it can be used in small children to treat ear infections and is often used as a sugar substitute for diabetics.
Its dental benefits are quite impressive. It tastes sweet, but unlike traditional sugar, it isn’t converted into acid in the mouth. In fact, it has been shown to actually reduce the levels of the bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
But how does it work? Your mouth has a relatively low pH level, meaning it is on the acidic side. After we eat and drink, the sugars in our meal are consumed by the bacteria in our mouths and converted into acid, beginning what is known as an acid attack on the teeth. This can last for up to 30 minutes following a meal or snack.
But xylitol raises the pH level in our mouths, neutralizing the acid and stopping an acid attack before it can begin. Bacteria in the mouth cannot consume xylitol in the same way as it does sugar, so they cannot grow and create cavities. Using xylitol products can reduce the level of acid-producing bacteria by as much as 90 percent.
Xylitol also creates a protective barrier around the teeth, preventing bacteria from sticking to it. This reduces the overall amount of plaque in the mouth.
“Using products such as chewing gum or toothpaste that contain xylitol can significantly reduce the risk of developing dental caries,” says Dr. Brusky. “Xylitol has even been shown to reverse small areas of dental decay currently present in a patient’s mouth. As a cosmetic dentist, I want my patients to have the most beautiful smiles possible, and xylitol is a great tool to help protect their teeth.”
The recommended amount to prevent tooth decay is less than 15 grams per day. The World Health Organization has given xylitol its highest safety rating for food additives, so patients can be sure it is safe to use.
And the best thing about xylitol is how easy it is to use. It’s as simple as popping a piece of gum in your mouth, sucking on a delicious candy, or using a tooth paste that has xylitol added. There’s no need to alter your normal daily routine, and no need to hunt down hard to find products.
Xylitol is recommended for both children and adults, to prevent tooth decay, repair damaged enamel and ensure a healthy mouth. And if that isn’t enough, there are other ways xylitol products can help you.
Research shows that xylitol also has benefits when used in a nasal spray. Adding xylitol to a saline spray can clear out the infectious germs that adhere to the mucous membranes and nasal tissues. Regular use of xylitol in a nasal spray can result in fewer respiratory infections and allow for easier breathing because it keeps germs and pollutants from sticking.
Studies out of Finland have shown xylitol to help prevent ear infections, and can possibly lower intraocular pressure, a condition that can develop into glaucoma.
But the dental benefits also affect a person’s overall health because a healthy mouth can lead to a healthy life. Because xylitol can prevent the harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay, it also prevents these same bacteria from contributing to gum disease. Periodontal disease is related to a host of other health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Patients who use xylitol can lower their risk of periodontal disease, while also lowering their risk for heart disease.
The benefits of xylitol are clear. And it tastes great and is all natural. Dr. Brusky recommends its daily use to all patients to help achieve a beautiful and healthy smile.
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