Many of us like to sweeten up our tea and coffee each morning with sugar or sugar substitutes, and there are many alternative sweeteners on the market for us to choose from. Did you know that for more than 40 years, people have been using a natural carbohydrate called xylitol as an alternative to sugar? Xylitol, unlike some of the other choices, is a natural low-calorie sweetener that looks and tastes just like regular sugar. It is most commonly extracted from birch bark, but can also be found in fruits and fibrous vegetables. However, unlike sugar and its other competitors, xylitol has added benefits for maintaining healthy teeth.
The Benefits Of Xylitol For Your Teeth
When your teeth come into contact with regular sugar it provides fuel for the bacteria in your mouth to multiply and create acids that destroy enamel, forcing a visit to a cosmetic dentist. Since xylitol does not break down in the same way as sugar, the bacteria in your mouth do not recognize it as “food” and therefore the pH balance inside your mouth remains neutral. Thus preventing an acidic breeding ground inside your mouth.
Xylitol not only reduces the growth of bacteria by neutralizing the pH in your mouth, but it also helps prevent tooth decay because that very same bacteria need the acid in order to attach to your teeth and form harmful plaque that can lead to tooth decay.
Lastly, xylitol has been shown to even repair damaged tooth enamel by providing the mouth with alkaline saliva. The following scientific explanation of how this works was provided on www.xylitol.org:
“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.”
In conclusion, because xylitol neutralizes acid in the mouth, it therefore prevents bacterial growth and attachment, and helps to repairs tooth enamel. So the next time you reach for sugar, remember that nature has given us a better alternative called xylitol. Your teeth will thank you.