Xylitol: A Natural Way to Fight Tooth Decay
Years of research have shown that xylitol, a natural sweetener, can be used as a natural way to fight, and even reverse tooth decay. Here are some easy ways to incorporate xylitol into your tooth brushing routine.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a plant based sweetener. It is not a drug, it is completely natural. Many sugar free items available at the grocery store list xylitol as the key ingredient. Xylitol has been approved by the FDA to be a safe, natural sweetener.
What is Tooth Decay?
To understand the benefits of xylitol, it is first necessary to understand just what causes tooth decay.
We all know that sugar causes cavities. Tooth decay is caused when naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth comes into contact with the sugar you eat.
Sugar feeds the bacteria, causing the bacteria to multiply rapidly. The acids created by the bacteria eat the enamel on your teeth. The tooth decay caused by the erosion of the tooth enamel leads to the creation of cavities.
How Does Xylitol Work?
Although xylitol is a natural sweetener, it does not break down in your mouth the way that regular sugar does. Xylitol actually keeps bacteria from sticking to your teeth, helping to prevent tooth decay.
Studies have shown that not only does xylitol help prevent tooth decay, it may also even reverse it.
Does Xylitol Actually Reverse Tooth Decay?
Cavities that have broken through the tooth enamel require a trip to the dentist and a filling to repair the tooth and prevent further tooth decay.
However, small cavities that have not broken through the tooth's enamel can indeed sometimes be repaired. Xylitol, when combined with a person's saliva, can raise the pH of the saliva to the point where calcium deficient areas of the teeth can re-harden, actually healing the cavity.
How Much Xylitol?
There are a number of ways to incorporate xylitol into your daily routine.
You can use xylitol as a sweetener in your cooking, but this is not necessary as there are many mints, gums, toothpastes, and mouth washes that contain xylitol. Giving your kids xylitol gum to chew will greatly reduce their risk of developing new cavities.
When shopping for products containing xylitol, look for products that list xylitol as the first ingredient to receive the maximum benefit.
It is recommended that a person use some sort of xylitol product 4 or 5 times a day for the best results. Frequency, not quantity, is key. For example, you could brush your teeth with a toothpaste containing xylitol in the morning and before bed, and have a mint or piece of gum containing xylitol after each meal.
Note: While xylitol in moderate quantities is beneficial for people to consume, studies have shown that xylitol may be deadly to dogs.
It is never too late to take good care of your teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly are very important, but they are not enough. If you are looking for a way to help prevent and even reverse tooth decay, then at your next dental appointment discuss with your dentist the many benefits of using xylitol.
Copyright 2013, Creative Homemaking, LLC. This article may not be reprinted.
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