One-half of all Americans chew gum regularly. Chewing a resilient substance for its flavor without swallowing has been practiced for thousands of years. Unlike the birch resin chewed in ancient times, you have a limitless choice of flavors and types today. Some products even add vitamins, antioxidants, or herbs for possible health benefits. One additive, xylitol, is often recommended for its dental benefits. Read below to learn more about three of these benefits to your oral health and how gum with xylitol can help you.
Our oral health care professionals can help you prevent tooth decay and gum disease for a brighter and healthier smile. Schedule an appointment at Trident Dental for a comprehensive oral examination and professional teeth cleaning.
What Is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a type of carbohydrate known as sugar alcohol. It is found naturally in many vegetables and fruits, such as cauliflower and strawberries. Xylitol is also commercially produced for use in food products, where it produces a cooling sensation in the mouth. However, unlike other commercially produced sweeteners, xylitol’s sweetness is virtually the equivalent of sugar. Therefore, as a sweetener in its granular form, xylitol is used in many ways as sugar. This includes using it to sweeten cereals and beverages.
Xylitol and Tooth Decay
One of the major contributors to dental cavities is the bacteria Streptococcus mutans which increases the acid in your mouth. These acids can remove minerals from tooth enamel to form a hole that eventually destroys enamel and dentin. Although xylitol is as sweet as sugar, it has a much different effect on tooth enamel. Streptococcus mutans cannot use xylitol to grow and reproduce. Regular chewing of xylitol gum can help change the oral bacterial flora, which diminishes plaque levels and lowers the level of cavity-causing acids. There is also evidence that xylitol can help remineralize and reverse the process of early tooth decay.
Studies show that mothers can increase the likelihood of cavities by passing Streptococcus mutans to their newborn children. Fortunately, it has been demonstrated that regular use of xylitol by mothers can mitigate this risk.
Xylitol and Gum Disease
Almost half of adults thirty and older have some form of periodontal disease. This incidence increases with age and can lead to periodontal surgery or tooth loss. Xylitol has been shown to possibly reduce the harmful inflammation produced by oral bacteria such as, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans that contribute to gum disease.
Xylitol and Dry Mouth
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), xerostomia, or dry mouth, can cause mild to severe oral health issues. Common causes of dry mouth include radiation for head and neck cancer, diabetes, hormonal changes, and side effects of certain medications. Some of the effects xerostomia can have on your mouth include an increased risk of tooth decay, gingivitis, bad breath, and mouth sores. One of the ways you can reduce dry mouth is by using an artificial saliva or oral moisturizer product that you can obtain without a prescription. Some of these products contain xylitol, fluoride, calcium, or other substances with oral health benefits.
Gum with Xylitol
Not all gum contains xylitol. Several gum brands, including Orbit, Trident, Stride, and Nicorette, among others, do. Because it is less prone to create cavities than ordinary sugar, xylitol is frequently used as a sweetener in gum. Keep in mind that xylitol is harmful to dogs, so make sure to keep gum with this ingredient out of their reach!
Contact Trident Dental to learn how we can help you with any questions about maintaining optimal oral health. Our goal is to help you prevent problems before they occur.