It looks like sugar, it tastes like sugar, but it’s definitely not sugar. A sugar substitute found in nature and in the body, xylitol has 40 percent fewer calories than sugar (and contains no fructose). But the best news about xylitol is that it can help you get fewer cavities.
How is this possible?
Unlike sugar, which breaks down into chemicals that bacteria thrive on, xylitol slows the growth of cavity-promoting bacteria in the mouth by up to 90 percent. Xylitol can even reverse tooth decay that has already occurred.
A further bonus: xylitol stops the production of acid, which prevents destruction of the tooth enamel—and enables the enamel to rebuild itself. Add reduction in dental plaque, tooth erosion, and gum inflammation to the list of benefits and you can see why this hard-working compound comes out a winner.
The dental benefits of xylitol have been recognized since 1970, and both Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) support its use for oral care.
So where can I get it?
You can find a variety of products sweetened with xylitol, including candy, chewing gum, toothpaste, and dental floss. You can also buy it as a bulk sweetener. Check out the website www.xylitol.org for more information about products containing xylitol.
How much should I consume?
To get the dental benefits from xylitol, you need to consume four to 10 grams of it per day. Check the packaging for xylitol content. Here’s a tip: frequency is more important than quantity. Aim to use xylitol three to seven times per day.
Any health benefits besides better teeth?
Yes, and they’re big ones: Xylitol can help stabilize blood sugar, increase bone density, and promote weight loss.
Any side effects?
Xylitol has no major side effects. Excessive consumption may lead to abdominal symptoms such as diarrhea, but unless you go overboard there’s really no downside. So suck, chew, and sprinkle away—as long it’s sweetened with xylitol!
1. Xylitol basics (Healthline): https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xylitol-101#low-glycemic-index
2. Xylitol and oral care (ODHA): https://odha.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ODHA-Facts-xylitol.pdf
3. Xylitol benefits and science (CCID journal): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232036/