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Xylitol

My dentist recommended I start using chewing gum that contains Xylitol to help reduce tooth decay? Have you heard of this and are there any risks, as I am not keen on consuming artificial sweeteners?

Answer:

Yes I have heard of xylitol, it is actually a natural sweetener so you don’t need to be concerned. Xylitol works by interfering with bacteria, which need sugar to reproduce, so they starved in the presence of xylitol. Normally when oral bacteria reproduce acids are produced that cause cavities to begin to form. Using xylitol raises the pH of saliva in the mouth. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to fill into those parts of enamel where they are lacking. For this reason, use of xylitol has demonstrated not only a reduction in tooth decay, it was also shown to reduce and even reverse some existing dental caries. If you are looking to start using xylitol gum, I would be careful which products you use. Many of the mainstream products from the big brands you find when you go to pay at the supermarkets, are full of artificial sweeteners. I have seen some with as many as four different artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin and Acesulfame K. The labels often say contain xylitol on the front but don’t say how much. I would go to you local health food shop and look for Xylitol only gum, such as Spry Xlear which is sweetened only with Xylitol and contains much higher amounts per piece of gum. There are quite a few different brands out there, so hopefully you can find one.