If there is one thing that I’m pretty sure about when it comes to dental health it’s that sugar is bad for your teeth. Practically everyone from my mum, my 7-year-old niece to my dentist knows that refined sugar should be avoided if you want to have pearly whites. That is why when a friend suggested that I should try a toothpaste with xylitol I was a bit sceptical. All I knew about xylitol at that moment was that it’s a sugar alcohol that it’s used as a substitute for sugar.
Somehow, whenever the word sugar is mentioned I can’t help but think of Queen Elizabeth I, that is notorious for having rotten teeth because she used to brush them with sugar paste, which at that time was considered a luxurious good, only available to the nobles. But after a bit of research I know regret my previous concerns as xylitol has little to do with the refined sugar. In a matter of fact, it’s even promoted as the perfect partner in the fight against tooth decay.
Is Xylitol Safe in Toothpaste?
As I’ve said before, xylitol is sugar alcohol but I didn’t know that it is naturally produced in small amounts in the human body and therefore it’s safe to use in dental products (and as a food ingredient also). Xylitol is also obtained from fruits and veggies, including oats, corn, and birch.
The bacteria in our mouth find white sugar to be a yummy snack and ingest it producing acid that removes the shiny, protective, outer layer of the teeth. These bacteria are known as Streptococcus mutans and they can build up on the surface of the teeth at any age. But unlike the case with regular sugar, the bacteria responsible for cavities cannot metabolize xylitol and therefore cannot multiply and cause cavities. This is why using toothpaste with xylitol doesn’t come with the risk of cavities. In a matter of fact, this substance protects you from tooth decay as it has been found to be helpful in repairing the tooth enamel or the process known as remineralisation.
Poor salivation is something that usually happens among seniors and people consuming medications. Since saliva helps to wash away food debris and reduce plaque, when not produced in the optimal quantity, the person can have dry mouth, which in turn can lead to tooth decay. Xylitol enriched dental products are also recommended for people who have less than the normal amount of saliva in their mouth chronically without any specific reason. Xylitol toothpaste along with chewing gums and mouthwashes can naturally help increase salivation.
Some Important Considerations
Once I got more knowledgeable regarding the benefits of using a xylitol toothpaste, I decided to make the switch. As xylitol has been gaining in popularity as of late, many companies have been making toothpaste with xylitol. But it’s unfair that some of them claim their toothpaste to contains xylitol but don’t back up this statement by showing the percent concentration. This is usually due to the fact that these contain such a small amount of xylitol that they don’t even want their product to be compared to others based on the xylitol content. Therefore your best bet is to pick a toothpaste that clearly states the percentage of this substance. Mine is made with 31% xylitol and this is clearly stated on the package.
My Personal Experience
Since I started using toothpaste with xylitol I haven’t had cavity problems. The xylitol keeps my teeth clean and gums pink and healthy. What I’ve also noticed is that the xylitol toothpaste cleanses nicely between closely spaced teeth as is the case with mines, so I no longer have to flush my teeth as often as I had to before. My mouth feels fresh and the toothpaste leaves a pleasant feeling. Mine also contains fluoride which is a natural material that has been proven to be effective in preventing tooth decay. Depending on where you live, the water supply may be fluoridated to help reduce the risk of tooth decay. In Australia, fluoride has been added to municipal water supplies, including all capital cities, because as already mentioned it can improve oral health.
Of course, there are xylitol toothpaste varieties that are free of fluoride. These are meant for those who for some reason don’t want their toothpaste to contain fluoride. For instance, if you are allergic to fluoride or you are obtaining enough fluoride through food, beverages or tapped water, you can go for the xylitol toothpaste that’s fluoride-free.