Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is gaining popularity as an ingredient to fight tooth decay. Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free gums because not only does it prevent dental cavities, it actually helps reverse the tooth decay process. If that wasn’t enough for you, if xylitol is used to cook with instead of sugar, it will result in weight loss due to the much lower calories it contains. After reading this article, you’ll not only understand why dentists recommend xylitol for teeth, but also how xylitol will help you lose weight.
Why is sugar so bad for your teeth?
If you are like most people when you think of sugar you picture the white table sugar that you put in your cup of coffee, sprinkle over your cereal and is used to make candy. The technical name for table sugar is sucrose.
Other common sugars are glucose and fructose. Glucose is the sugar that is found in our blood and fructose is the main sugar found in fruit.
Sucrose, glucose and fructose contribute to tooth decay by acting as a food source for the bacteria living on your teeth. After the bacteria eat the sugar they excrete acid which dissolves the tooth enamel and results in a cavity in the tooth.
Of these sugars, sucrose is by far the worst of them because it causes the bacteria to not only secrete acid, but to produce a sticky acid which is not washed away by saliva. This sticky acid produced by common table sugar, sucrose, is the main reason we need to brush our teeth.
Fructose and glucose are found naturally in fruit, but in low levels and they produce an acid that is quickly washed away by your saliva, so when you eat whole fruit you don’t need to worry about getting dental cavities. You should continue to eat fruits of course because they are obviously very good for you.
The frequency of daily sugar intake is more important than the quantity of sugar when it comes to dental cavities
As I alluded to earlier, every time sugar is consumed, the acidity goes up in the mouth and then slowly decreases as saliva washes it away. When the acid is high the calcium washes out of your tooth and then as the acidity gradually decreases the calcium re-enters the tooth. When you eat sugar multiple times a day and between meals the tooth is constantly losing minerals and only regains them when the acidity returns to normal about half an hour after consuming sugar.
Therefore, it is the number of times sugar is consumed during the day that has the most important bearing on whether a tooth will get a hole in it or not. The amount of sugar is not so important.
From a dental point of view you are better off drinking a gallon of coke in a few minutes once a day than to drink only a small bottle of coke but to sip on it multiple times during the day. Your physician won’t recommend this of course, but you get my point
Xylitol is a sugar that is actually good for your teeth!
Xylitol is a type of sugar called a polyalcohol. Other types of polyalcohols are mannitol and sorbitol. All polyalcohol sugars are good for the teeth because unlike sucrose, fructose and glucose, they are not converted into acid in the mouth. You will often see xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol in sugar free gum. The best polyalcohol sugar for your teeth is xylitol.
Xylitol is a natural sugar and is found in many fruits and vegetables. So if you are worried that xylitol is an artificial sweetener you can relax! Personally, I don’t have a problem with artificial sweeteners, but I fully understand that people are worried and the question of whether artificial sweeteners are safe or not is still controversial.
Xylitol prevents tooth decay in three ways:
1) Xylitol kills the bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay. The bacteria that cause dental decay are unable to use xylitol as a food. These bacteria not only can’t use the xylitol for food, the xylitol also interferes with the ability of the bacteria to take up other sugars to feed on and the bacteria dies.
2)Xylitol is sweet and stimulates salivation which lowers the acidity in your mouth.
3)Xylitol helps adds the minerals back into your teeth. Xylitol achieves this by increasing the amount of calcium absorbed through your stomach. The more calcium you absorb from your diet, the more calcium there is contained in your saliva.
For Xylitol to be effective at preventing tooth decay, researchers recommend getting at least 6 grams of it in your diet per day. This can easily be achieved with the use of xylitol gums and mints.
The use of xylitol in toothpaste may also help prevent tooth decay.
How does xylitol help people lose weight?
Xylitol has forty percent fewer calories than normal sugar, but is about the same sweetness. This is fantastic news for people with a sweet tooth. Imagine if you could use xylitol instead of normal sugar in your favorite sugary recipes? The less calories you consume, the more weight you will lose!
Also, Xylitol is absorbed at about a third of the rate of normal sugar, so has a low glycaemic index. The low glycaemic index as well as the low calories of xylitol compared with normal sugar make it particularly suitable for use in diabetics as well as people trying to lose weight.
Xylitol is proven to be perfectly safe to use in diabetics. If you have diabetes and want to enjoy sweet foods again without causing dangerously high blood sugar levels, then consider using xylitol.
Can I use xylitol instead of sugar in my cooking?
Xylitol can be used for cooking, but not for making bread. That’s because the yeasts used to make bread need normal sugars to work. With the exception of baking bread xylitol can be used instead of sugar. Although the sweetness is about the same as table sugar, you will have to change the amount you add to your recipes more or less to get the same sweetness in your cooking. It won’t take you long to adjust to the difference.
That’s great, but is Xylitol safe to use in such large quantities?
Xylitol is not toxic to humans, but it can cause diarrhoea and gas if used in large quantities without easing into it first. For most people these symptoms disappear after a few weeks of continued use and they can safely consume up to a pound of xylitol per day with no side effects. A pound of xylitol is much more than most people would ever consume in one day!
Xylitol is toxic to dogs though, so make sure you don’t feed any to your beloved pooch! About 50 grams or above of xylitol may be fatal to a dog.
Thanks for reading why I think xylitol is a great way to prevent tooth decay and lose weight. I hope you consider using it yourself if you want to lose weight or have a problem with tooth decay. If you have any questions about xylitol or any experience using it you’d like to share please do so in the comments section and I will get back to you.
If you want to get some xylitol for yourself, you can read my review on Epic Dental who make the highest quality xylitol products.