Poor oral hygiene is likely to result in cavities, gum disease, and toothache. Even worse, such dental problems can affect your smile and consequently lower your self-esteem. Thankfully, you can use xylitol to improve oral health and keep dental problems at bay. With that in mind, here is some more information about xylitol:
What is xylitol?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, xylitol is a five-carbon sugar alcohol present in many wild plants and vegetables and fruits including berries, mushrooms, and oats. In addition, it is present in fibrous materials such as sugarcane bagasse and cornhusks. Birchwood also contains substantial amounts of xylitol, which pharmaceuticals extract for use in manufacture of diverse drugs.
Benefits of Xylitol for teeth
Researchers in Finland discovered the dental benefits of xylitol while carrying out tests on animals in 1970. Shortly thereafter, countries such as Finland and the US started promoting use of xylitol to enhance oral health. With this in mind, xylitol is beneficial because it reduces formation of plaque on teeth. Moreover, it inhibits demineralization of the teeth's outer layer, enamel, which translates to reduced likelihood of teeth decay. Another xylitol benefit is its ability to lower Mutans Streptococci (MS) levels, according to results of a study published in the Journal of Dental Research.
This is significant because MS can pass from mother to child. Luckily, a study published in the International Dental Journal found that women who chew xylitol gum for a period spanning 3 to 24 months after giving birth reduce MS levels in their children for up to four more years after end of this period. At this point, it is worth noting that MS is a bacterium that inhabits the oral cavity. The problem with MS is it is the main cause of dental decay, according to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and the US National Library of Medicine. Still, it can improve pediatric oral health as long as women who have given birth use healthy chewing gum with xylitol. Other benefits include increased salivary flow, does not have unpleasant aftertaste, and contains up to a third fewer calories than regular sugar.
Is it safe?
Xylitol is safe to use and has relatively very few side effects.Although rare, you may experience side effects such as intestinal gas and diarrhea. Besides this, diabetics will be happy to know xylitol will not cause blood sugar spikes because the body does not require insulin to metabolize it.
Another plus is it does not contain fructose, which means it has zero or negligible effect on blood sugar levels. In fact, xylitol has a glycemic index of seven. In comparison, regular sugar's glycemic index ranges from 60 to 70. Still, pregnant women should avoid it. If you have doubts or experience severe side effects, consult and seek treatment from a qualified medical practitioner.
Finally, xylitol is highly toxic to dogs so do not store it inside low-level kitchen cabinet drawers or leave it lying on surfaces where a dog may come across it. When consumed by dogs, their bodies release large amounts of insulin leading to abnormal up take of glucose from blood. As a result, they go into hypoglycemic shock, which can be fatal.
A report published by the AAPD's Council on Clinical Affairs states that studies have shown daily dosage ranging from four to ten grams produces the best results. You should not consume this amount at once but preferably in three or more portions staggered throughout the day.
Xylitol gum alternatives
Although there are many healthy chewing gum products in the market that claim to be oral-health friendly, few, if any, can actually rival xylitol gum. Nevertheless, you can try stevia gum. Stevia is another naturally occurring compound extracted from "Stevia rebaudiana," a plant native to Paraguay. Like xylitol, stevia typically has low glycemic index, low calorie count, and is sweet. However, some stevia gum products do not contain 100% stevia. They contain varying amounts of dextrose or maltodextrin as well.
Major Xylitol gum brands
Major Xylitol gum brands include Epic Gum, Miradent Gum, Xyloburst, Trident Xtra Care, Xylichew, Xponent, Xyla Gum, Zellies, Pur Gum, Branam Xylito Gum, ElimiTaste Zapp, BioGenesis Fruit Gum, Peelu Xylitol Gum, Xylimax, Ricochet Gum, and B-Fresh Gum. It is worth noting that these brands contain varying amounts of xylitol.
Adopting and maintaining good oral health habits is easy even if you have a busy work or study schedule. You can do this by popping healthy chewing gum into your mouth at least three times daily. This will prevent tooth decay, plaque formation, and transmission of MS to baby if you have given birth recently.