Studies show using the artificial sweetener “xylitol” may help reduce cavities in children. Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance in fruits, vegetables and plant material. It can be added to gums and oral care products to prevent tooth decay and is a safe sugar substitute for diabetics.
Read more about the dental benefits of xylitol on www.xylitol.org:
Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With the dental benefits of Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. Most people are not aware of this benefit because such a claim makes xylitol into a drug, crossing a boundary not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration.
Less Bacteria, Less Acid – Healthier Teeth!
Because the bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid-producing bacteria may fall as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases.
Repairing damaged enamel
Research has shown that the use of xylitol also helps repair damage to the enamel. Saliva in itself protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva in particular contains all the components needed to repair early cavities. If sugar is only taken a couple of times a day, the saliva can do the job alone. But most people take sugar so often that the mouth’s own defensive tools are not enough.
The dental benefits of xylitol also include saliva. Saliva that has xylitol is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque may rise, and plaque pH rises as well. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to move into those parts of enamel that are weak. Therefore, soft, calcium-deficient enamel sites begin to harden again.
NOTE: Xylitol is toxic to dogs when ingested – even in small amounts!