We’ve heard the saying that sugar rots your teeth. This adage exists for a good reason, as too much sugar can absolutely increase the risk of decay. So it’s no surprise that your dentist in Austin will encourage you to enjoy sugary snacks and drinks in moderation. But what if there was a way where you could enjoy sweet treats and not put your teeth at risk for cavities? Good news! Thanks to xylitol, there is.
All About Xylitol
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that’s naturally found in many fruits and vegetables. Its naturally sweet flavor can give you everything you want from sweets without the risks of traditional sugar. How so? Well, xylitol is digested differently in the body than sugar, so it’s less dangerous for overall health. Sugar can raise blood glucose levels, slow down metabolism, and cause issues with weight. Xylitol on the other hand has about 40% fewer calories than sugar and has a low glycemic index, meaning blood glucose levels won’t be nearly as affected by xylitol as it is by sugar. But that’s not all. Your dentist in Austin wants you to know that xylitol may also protect oral health.
Oral Health Benefits of Xylitol
Besides being a better alternative to sugar for overall health, xylitol can also benefit oral health. There are tons of bacteria in our mouths. Some of the bacteria are good, and some are bad. One of the most common types of bad bacteria is Streptococcus mutans. These bad bacteria love sugar as it gives them fuel to replicate and create more and more bacteria. Essentially, the more sugar we eat, the more the bacteria feed, and the more bacteria they produce. Streptococcus mutans are also the main contributor to plaque buildup which also means an increased risk of decay. However, xylitol is different.
While the Streptococcus mutans bacteria will still feed on xylitol, it won’t allow the bacteria to reproduce. In fact, quite the opposite. Xylitol will starve Streptococcus mutans and actually reduce the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth. This gives the bacteria less of a chance to create plaque buildup and cavities.
Some of the oral benefits of xylitol include:
Gum that contains xylitol as opposed to sugar can be a great way to protect teeth. Chewing gum on its own produces saliva that washes away bacteria and neutralizes acids. But chewing gum with xylitol can continuously kill bad bacteria. You can also find xylitol in the baking aisle at most grocery stores and use it as a sugar replacement in many recipes.
Replacing sugar with xylitol can go a long way in protecting teeth. But it is not a replacement for good old-fashioned oral hygiene. You still need to brush and floss your teeth every day and see your dentist in Austin every six months for checkups.