6th February 2013 by James Goolnik
As explained in our previous blog titled ‘How Sports Drinks Can Wreck Your Teeth’, tooth erosion is caused by sugar (sucrose) which causes bacteria to multiply and form acids that attack and wear away the protective enamel covering. Teeth take a daily beating from sugar – even healthy fruit drinks are packed with sucrose and contain natural acids that are more corrosive than battery acid.
Manufacturers of sugar-free gums and mints claim to have the solution to help your teeth fight off acid erosion and decay caused by the build-up of bacteria. It is a fact that by generating more saliva in the mouth, the pH is raised to combat the harmful effects of acid bacteria. Nevertheless, using sorbitol and aspartame instead of sugar only goes so far – there is something far more effective at protecting your teeth, and what’s more it is completely natural.
Xylitol is derived from the fibrous parts of plants – it is a perfectly natural sweetener produced in fruits and vegetables as well as in our own bodies. Not only does Xylitol have none of the harmful effects of sucrose or artificial sweeteners, it also contains 40% fewer calories and 75% fewer carbs than refined white sugar.
As mentioned, bacteria proliferation in the mouth causes acid to form, which seriously damages tooth enamel. Unlike sugar, bacteria cannot digest Xylitol, so it is not encouraged to continue multiplying – bacteria can be reduced by as much as 90% to minimise the resulting acid onslaught significantly. Gum or mints which contain Xylitol will cause extra saliva production, which reduces the formation of acid and plaque even further. In addition, Xylitol helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth, so that it doesn’t get a chance to cause harmful plaque.
Research has demonstrated that the use of Xylitol helps to repair enamel damage caused by acid erosion. The saliva in your mouth is nature’s way of protecting your teeth and gums – if it weren’t for the damage caused by the amounts of sugar most of us tend to ingest, saliva would act to repair cavities that start to form. Xylitol is not only sucrose free, it causes your saliva to become more alkaline. An alkaline pH above 7 causes the calcium and phosphate salts in saliva to move into the parts of your teeth enamel which have been weakened, helping these soft, calcium-deficient areas to harden once again. A study reported by the American Dental Association demonstrated that consumption of xylitol-containing chewing gum reduced the cavities in a test group of teenagers by 30% to 60%.
For all of the above reasons, Dr. Nigel Carter of the British Dental Health Foundation quoted: “Xylitol may be the biggest advance against cavities since fluoride”. If you feel you require a professional tooth repair consultation, please contact our team.
Not only does Xylitol pack a powerful punch in the fight against bacteria formation and acid erosion in teeth, studies have shown that it can assist with weight management by helping you to feel full. It also helps to maintain balanced insulin levels in your body, which has an impact on healthy blood pressure, hormones and cholesterol levels. Finally, a higher alkalinity in the body has numerous benefits, including maintaining calcium levels, which in turn helps keep your bones strong as you get older.
At our practise we are always looking for the best solutions to keep our patients’ teeth in beautiful condition, and Xylitol has proven itself to be highly effective at warding of tooth damage. To make the most of its dental health benefits, the recommended daily dose is 5g of Xylitol per day. We are now stocking the Peppersmith brand – each pack of mints contains 13.8g of Xylitol, and each pack of gum approximately 10.6g. So, now you can conveniently keep your teeth protected all day long while on the go.