Despite the vast improvement in dental health achieved through the use of fluoride, tooth decay continues to rise and is reaching epidemic proportions in one group - children under 6 years. This is a major cause of concern in many countries including the U.S. Decreasing children’s sugar and starch intake and finding ways to stop tooth decay before it starts are critical priorities for dental professionals to help reverse this alarming trend. Xylitol is increasingly regarded as a powerful weapon in the fight to prevent early childhood tooth decay.
A natural cavity fighter
Xylitol is an all natural ingredient that is clinically proven to help reduce bacteria and fight tooth decay. Approved by the FDA in 1963 as a natural alternative to sugar, xylitol is a white crystalline powder that is odorless with a pleasant sweet taste. Found in natural sources such as corn, birch trees, fruits and vegetables, xylitol is also naturally produced in the body by metabolic activity.
First popularized in Europe as a safe sugar alternative for people with diabetes and hyperglycemia, xylitol has less impact on blood sugar than other sugars, and has only 9.6 calories per teaspoon (vs. 15 calories for regular sugar).
Clinically proven to help reduce and prevent tooth decay.
In a 2006 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry study, children whose mothers who chewed xylitol gum 3 months after delivery until their children were 2 years old had a 70% reduction in cavities compared to other groups. Studies have also shown that xylitol chewing gum can help prevent acute otitis media, the most common ear infection in children.
In the U.S., xylitol is approved as a direct food additive for use in foods for special dietary needs. Unlike fluoride, xylitol is safe for babies and toddlers to swallow, allowing it to be both an effective substitute and complement to fluoride in oral care products. The safety of xylitol has been proven in long term clinical studies and has been confirmed by all the major regulatory bodies worldwide.
How does Xylitol work?
Studies confirm xylitol’s plaque-reducing effect and its role as a key inhibitor of cavity-causing bacteria. When bacteria enter the mouth, they attach themselves to a variety of sugar complexes. The molecular structure of xylitol and its ability to form many different sugar-like structures appears to interfere with bacteria’s ability to adhere to tooth enamel. Research shows that xylitol seems to attract then “starve” bacteria, allowing the mouth to re-mineralize damaged teeth.