What is Xylitol? A sweet cavity fighter


Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance found in most fruits and vegetables as well as plant and tree fibers.  Our bodies even produce Xylitol in small quantities as part of normal metabolic processes.  Since the 1970s, it has been distilled from corn husks and trees like Birch for use in consumer products.  So, despite its chemically charged name, keep in mind that Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, not an artificial sweetener.

So, let's get to the toothy stuff....Xylitol is an ingredient in many food products as a sweetener, and in many oral care products like gum, mints, toothpaste, and mouthwash.  Xylitol is a bit of paradox because it is used like sugar while it maintains some unique anti-cavity properties.  Check out Xylitol's special cavity fighting strengths:

1. Cannot be digested by bacteria in our mouths, so it does not produce acids which cause cavities

2. Has unique physical properties which prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth

3. Boosts saliva's alkaline properties which enhances saliva to rebuild enamel on your teeth

The best course of dental hygiene use seems to be using Xylitol often, so chewing xylitol gum makes sense.  In large amounts Xylitol can make your stomach queasy, and this may be an issue in the consumption of food products.  However, you can look at product ingredients to see that very small quantities of Xylitol are used to make effective dental care products.

 Some more quick facts:

  • Toxic to dogs (possible cat conspiracy)
  • Used in treating and preventing ear infections in children
  • As a nasal spray, prevents bacteria from sticking to nasal passage