It’s no surprise that sugar is bad for your teeth. When bacteria in your mouth digest sugar, they release acid that can damage the surface of your teeth. An acidic environment, in turn, makes it easier for bacteria to thrive. But there’s no need to stop eating sweet stuff for good. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is actually good for your teeth, and you can’t even tell that it isn’t actual sugar!
The Science Behind Xylitol
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, but it doesn’t contain sugar or alcohol! It’s actually a carbohydrate that chemically looks a lot like sugar and gives the same sweet taste. Don’t confuse it with artificial sweetener, either; xylitol is derived naturally!
The Difference Between Xylitol & Sugar
Cavity-causing bacteria doesn’t thrive on xylitol like they do with sugar. In fact, xylitol actually neutralizes acids in your mouth, so that the bacteria can’t even thrive! This makes xylitol completely safe for your teeth.
Where to Find Xylitol
1. Sugar-Free Gum & Mints
It’s common to find xylitol in sugar-free gum and mints, especially if they have an American Dental Association seal on their labels. If it contains xylitol instead of sugar, there’s no need to worry about whether chewing gum or popping in a breath mint will hurt your teeth!
2. Other Products
Xylitol is also found in toothpaste (no surprise there!), nut butters, jams, certain candies, and flavored waters. However, it’s important to check labels to make sure there isn’t also sugar in the foods and drinks you’re consuming, which will counteract the benefits of xylitol.
Xylitol Isn’t a Substitute for Proper Oral Care
Next time you see a product that contains xylitol, you’ll know that it’s a dentist-approved sugar substitute. Keep in mind that although xylitol can curb cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth, it’s still important to practice proper oral hygiene every day and to eat a balanced diet that is high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in order to support healthy, clean teeth.
Have More Questions? We Have Answers!
If you have any questions about which foods to eat that will support good oral health, or if you are due for a dental cleaning and examination, let our team at Rock Ridge Family Dentistry help you! Contact us to schedule an appointment.
We are here to help you have excellent oral health!