It’s no secret that sugar is bad for teeth. It gives bacteria nourishment and causes plaque to build up. Because of this, sugar substitutes are always in high demand, especially ones with additional health benefits. That’s why xylitol (pronounced ‘zeye-luh-tall), a natural sugar substitute derived primarily from plants, is so attractive for those looking for a sweet alternative that’s actually good for teeth.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has recognized the benefits of xylitol for preventing cavities. Studies show that it reduces plaque, is antimicrobial, and lowers enamel attacking acid.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that’s found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables. It can often be extracted from berries, oats, and mushrooms and fibers like birch. Animal studies have found that xylitol had nearly nonexistent side effects compared to other artificial sweeteners. It also has an extremely low caloric value compared to other natural sugars.
Xylitol is currently available in mints, chewable tablets, toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum! Chewing sugarless gum is specially beneficial as the act of chewing increases the production of saliva in your mouth which helps neutralize acid as it washes it away. While chewing gum can never replace brushing and flossing, the American Dental Association indicates that 20 minutes of chewing sugarless gum after meals can help prevent tooth decay.