Let’s talk about sugar substitutes specifically xylitol and your teeth.
Quick summary about sugar substitutes.
Substitutes are very hard to say. There are artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and stevia. And there are sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol. The question is, are sugar substitutes better than regular sugar for your teeth? The simple answer is yes. They may actually help decrease the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. However, it’s worth mentioning that some are proven to be better than others.
Let’s talk about xylitol.
One of the best and safest sugar substitutes. For your teeth, it is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol. The chemical structure of xylitol is a lot like glucose which is regular sugar but it has far fewer calories. Since it has fewer calories, it’s often used in place of sugar especially when it comes to chewing gum and even some oral care products like toothpaste. There are lots of proven studies that show xylitol exposure can significantly lower the amount of dental plaque in your mouth, and assist in decreasing your risk of tooth decay which is all great.
But before we talk about products that contain xylitol, let’s quickly talk about it as an actual sugar substitute for your coffee or tea. Like we said it’s much better for your teeth than regular sugar. All good however it’s important to know that too much of a good thing could be a bad thing. With xylitol, its downfall is if you were to ingest too much it can cause some serious stomach issues. I don’t want to say serious but with some stomach issues and to be detailed and blunt, it acts as a laxative.
So swallowing some isn’t a big deal.
But if you’re using it to bake a cake or completely substitute all of the sugar in a recipe, your stomach will probably notice. But again if you’re only eating a little bit you’ll be perfectly fine. Many nutritionists recommend that if you start using xylitol as a sugar replacement, you should start by not using more than two or three tablespoons a day to prevent gassiness and diarrhea. So don’t pour a cup of xylitol into your morning coffee. Maybe start with one tablespoon.
If you’re someone who isn’t even looking for a sugar substitute, you don’t even drink coffee or tea, but you’re looking for ways to optimize your dental health, the cool thing is that you can find xylitol in lots of toothpaste and mouth rinses and oral sprays. It’s a great ingredient to see listed on dental products. However, you don’t need to necessarily use a dental product with xylitol in it to get its perks. Because simply chewing a piece of xylitol gum or sucking on a xylitol breath mint is extremely beneficial to your dental health. So whenever I buy chewing gum I make sure there’s xylitol in it instead of regular sugar. It’s the little things in life that improve your life.
Is it better than fluoride?
Xylitol is great, however, it does not replace the need for fluoride. This is because fluoride strengthens weak teeth to make them more resistant to acids and prevents cavities and stops cavities from forming. Whereas xylitol only helps repel plaque and inhibit bacteria. It doesn’t re-mineralize enamel that has already been coated with buildup.
Although both xylitol and fluoride can be used for preventative purposes, they serve two totally different goals. Fluoride is the more important because that is what strengthens weak tooth enamel which prevents enamel erosion, tooth decay, etc. and xylitol is more of an additional added benefit to be used in conjunction with your regular fluoride routine.
In conclusion, sugar substitutes are much better for your teeth than regular sugar. Xylitol specifically is amazing sugar alcohol because of its ability to prevent plaque from sticking to your teeth. But again it does not replace fluoride, it can’t remineralize tooth enamel. One warning, xylitol is highly toxic to dogs just like chocolate. Don’t let your dog eat it.
I hope this helped you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave comments below.