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Michael B. Rogers, DDS
Xylitol A Sweet That's Good For Your Dental Health
Fairlington Dental
. http://www.fairlingtondental.com/

Xylitol A Sweet That's Good For Your Dental Health

Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in most fruits and vegetables, and even in trees. It is different than sugar because not only does it NOT cause cavities, it can even protect your teeth from decay. Xylitol's unique carbon structure makes it 40% lower in calories than sugar and has a glycemic index of 7 compared to sugar, which has a glycemic index of 87. This means it is a good sugar substitute for diabetics and dieters as well.

Xylitol was first produced in large quantities in Finland during World War II because all the imported sugar was blocked. In the ensuing years, research studies showed that tooth decay dropped dramatically, and that even after sugar was re-introduced, decay was still less prevalent ten years later. Now more than 1,500 clinical and laboratory studies have confirmed these findings and dentists all over the world are beginning to introduce xylitol to their patients.

Xylitol helps oral health in several ways. First, bacteria in the mouth do not produce as much acid and do not multiply as rapidly when exposed to xylitol as compared to sugar. Second, xylitol interferes with bacteria's ability to stick to teeth, gums, and oral tissues. Third, regular exposure to xylitol helps relieve dry mouth and reduce plaque, which are both major factors in tooth decay. Finally, xylitol boosts the body's natural defenses.

The studies have shown that the most important factor in reducing tooth decay with xylitol is how often the bacteria are exposed to it. The research concluded that there should be five exposures per day for a period of six months to achieve benefits that could last ten years or more. While five exposures sound like a lot, it can easily be accomplished using the following example brush in the morning with xylitol toothpaste, rinse with xylitol mouth rinse after breakfast, chew xylitol gum after lunch, suck on a few xylitol mints after dinner, and brush again with xylitol toothpaste and floss with xylitol floss before bed. Xylitol also comes in candy form, dental floss, oral sprays, and even a nasal spray, which has been shown to reduce ear infections by 93%.

While xylitol is safe for humans and even infants, it is harmful to dogs because it causes a surge of insulin followed by a dangerous drop in blood sugar, which doesn't happen in humans.

Xylitol products are currently available from health food stores and from dentists who have chosen to incorporate this preventive product into their practices.

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