Xylitol is a sugar-like substance generally used as sweetener in chewing gum and candies. It is also found in many products made specifically for dry mouth.
Xylitol is an excellent ally in the fight against dry mouth because it stimulates saliva production and helps prevent cavities.
In addition, people who have dry mouth can easily incorporate xylitol into their daily routine.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol or polyol usually obtained from birch bark.
Xylitol looks and tastes just like regular table sugar. However, it has about 40% less calories (2.4 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram of sugar) and 75% less carbohydrates than sugar.
Our body can produce up to 10 grams of xylitol a day by metabolizing carbohydrates. In addition, xylitol is found in some fruits, mushrooms and vegetables, though in a normal diet it is not possible to consume the amount of xylitol necessary to achieve their oral health benefits.
Xylitol can be an excellent alternative to sugar, especially in diabetics, in patients who should limit their sugar intake and in patients suffering from dry mouth, especially in order to control tooth decay.
Benefits of xylitol for dry mouth
It is important to note that xylitol does not replace proper oral hygiene nor does it have absolute efficacy in preventing cavities, but it is a valuable aid for people with dry mouth.
Xylitol increases the production of saliva
Saliva is the key to oral health. A lack of saliva puts dental enamel at risk and promotes tooth decay. Xylitol stimulates saliva production to help maintain strong enamel and relieve discomfort caused by dry mouth.
Xylitol reduces the acidity of saliva and promotes tooth remineralization
Xylitol reduces the acidity of saliva, preventing deterioration and damage of the tooth enamel caused by food acids.
Xylitol prevents cavities
Xylitol inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause cavities in the mouth. These bacteria feed on food debris, especially sugar. However, these bacteria cannot metabolize xylitol (it is toxic to them), soy they become starved, are unable to reproduce and finally die without damaging the teeth.
Scientific studies indicate that consumption of xylitol chewing gum and candies reduces cavities by between 30% and 80%
Xylitol avoids the adherence of bacteria to tooth
Xylitol also blocks the adherence of bacteria to tooth surfaces. Some xylitol resistant cariogenic bacteria are less capable of adhering to tooth surfaces.
How much xylitol should I take?
The key to xylitol consumption is frequency.
To relieve dry mouth and reduce the risk of cavities you should take xylitol throughout the day. Bacteria are always present in the mouth, so taking xylitol several times a day is more effective than taking it just once a day.
Chewing gum or sucking on candy with xylitol is highly recommended after meals or after snacking.
Between 6 and 10 grams of xylitol per day are enough to prevent tooth decay, although people with dry mouth may need more xylitol.
The maximum amount of xylitol must not exceed 45 grams for children and 100 grams for adults.
Where I can find xylitol?
Xylitol can be taken in several ways: candies, chewing gum, toothpaste, moisturizing gels and mouthwashes.
Almost all products made specifically for dry mouth include xylitol.
Does Xylitol have any side effects?
Generally, xylitol doesn’t present any adverse side effect.
Ingestion of excessive amounts of xylitol may have a laxative effect and produce intestinal gas (flatulence) and diarrhea. These side effects go away when you stop taking xylitol.
Xylitol is a safe substance for children and pregnant women.