Have you ever denied yourself a breath mint or a stick of gum because you have been told that sugar is bad for your teeth? Luckily, many sugarless gums and mints now contain an ingredient called xylitol. Although you may have never heard about this ingredient, rest assured that you can now enjoy sugarless gum without feeling guilty that you are harming your teeth. Below are some facts you may not know about xylitol.
Xylitol is used as a substitute for sugar. It belongs to the family of sugar alcohol substitutes and is low in calories. When purchasing gum or breath mints, be sure to look on the back of the packing for the list of ingredients. If xylitol is listed as an ingredient, you are good to go!
Benefits of Xylitol
By swapping sugary gum or mints for those that contain xylitol, you are reducing your sugar intake. When you reduce the amounts of sugar you consume, you are benefiting your oral health. The harmful bacteria in your mouth feed off of sugar. By reducing the availability of their source of fuel, you help promote a healthier environment in your mouth. Harmful bacteria are responsible for decay, plaque buildup, and eventually lead to gum disease. An added benefit to xylitol is that it appears to starve bacteria. Scientists have studied xylitol’s effect on oral bacteria for over three decades. Studies show that xylitol attracts harmful bacteria because they mistakenly believe it is a food source and ultimately the bacteria cannot feed on xylitol compounds, thus the bacteria starve.
By incorporating xylitol into your daily diet, you can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth. In conjunction with a thorough oral hygiene regimen, you can help reduce your risk for cavities and other oral health problems related to harmful bacteria. For more information on oral hygiene or to schedule an appointment with Dr. James Fondriest, contact our office at (847) 234-0517. We serve patients from Highland Park, Winnetka, Glenview, North Shore, Lake Forest, and the neighboring communities.