Xylitol has long been used in dental care. It is often an ingredient in different dental products, such as toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum. There are many benefits associated with using this sugar alcohol as part of your dental care routine.
Dental carries result from bacteria and this sugar alcohol can help to prevent the growth of the bacteria. When you use xylitol regularly there will be a reduced amount of the bacteria known to cause carries, referred to as mutans streptococci. This can be found in the saliva and plaque. Using xylitol long-term can help to reduce lactobacilli growth. Remineralization can also be accomplished with the use of this sugar alcohol. Demineralization occurs when your teeth are exposed to high amounts of acid or sugar, when oral hygiene is not up to par and when there is tooth damage. Remineralization means that the lost minerals are returned to the tooth's molecular structure, strengthening your teeth.
Plaque builds up in your mouth throughout the day, but using products that contain xylitol throughout the day can help to make this plaque less carinogenic. If you chew gum that contains xylitol after eating, for example, you can help to prevent plaque-related acid production. This will help to keep your tooth enamel strong. This sugar alcohol also makes it hard for plaque to adhere to your teeth so that when you do brush, plaque comes off a lot easier. This also helps to prevent plaque buildup.
Studies have been done to look at how xylitol and fluoride can work together to help strengthen and protect the teeth. It has been shown that regular xylitol use can improve the effects of fluoride, and in some cases, it is more effective than fluoride. Research shows that the most benefit is seen when these are both used regularly and together because they have a cumulative effect.