You may have heard this funny sounding word or saw it listed in the ingredients of a pack of gum you recently bought. In fact, with nutritionist pushing for consumers to read food labels and for food manufacturers to be more transparent, you’re probably beginning to notice all kinds of ingredients that you may have never heard of before. Xylitol sounds anything but familiar, so what is it and more importantly, is it good for you?
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, much like sorbitol, mannitol, or erythritol. It is derived from the carbohydrate xylose and occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables. When produced for commercial purposes, xylitol is extracted from one of two sources; corn cobs or birch wood.
What is xylitol used for?
Since xylitol is naturally sweet and contains 1/3 fewer calories than sugar, it is often used as a sugar substitute in chewing gums, mints, and other items such as “sugar-free” candies. Xylitol is also found in some oral care products such as tooth paste and mouth rinse.
Is xylitol good for me?
There are mixed results as to whether xylitol is beneficial to humans beyond the recommended serving of 6-10 grams per day. However, in small doses xylitol has shown to help prevent tooth decay and cavities because it does not convert to acid in the mouth like sugar does.
Although xylitol has proven to benefit human’s oral health when consumed in small doses, any amount of xylitol is toxic to dogs. If your dog eats any amount of xylitol, you should take them to the vet immediately for treatment.
How can xylitol benefit my oral health?
Xylitol has shown to increase salivary flow, helping keep the mouth hydrated and washing away harmful acids that break down tooth enamel. It is also useful in helping prevent plaque buildup which in turn helps prevent cavities.
Should I add xylitol to my diet?
Before you add anything new to your diet or oral health care routine, it’s best to talk to your doctor and/or dentist to learn their recommendation. While xylitol does show some promising oral health benefits, work with your doctor and dentist to determine if it is the right option for you.
If you’re concerned about cavities or tooth decay, having regular cleanings and exams with a professional dentist is the first step to improving your oral health. Contact us today to set up an appointment.