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Are All Sugars Bad for Your Teeth?

“All that sugar will rot your teeth.”

You probably heard that a time or 10 when you were growing up, especially if you got caught trying to sneak one more dessert. Usually the person giving you the warning would be right, but there is one sugar that can actually help your teeth and gums.

What is xylitol?

It is a natural sugar found in the fibrous part of many plants including plums, strawberries, raspberries, and birch trees. According to the Ontario Dental Hygienists’ Association, it is considered one of the most powerful weapons against tooth decay.

But how can that be? Isn’t sugar supposed to rot your teeth?

Not this one. Numerous clinical and field tests have shown significant reductions in tooth decay and in some cases, it can work to repair cavities. The benefits of xylitol are long lasting and maybe even permanent.

How can sugar be good for my teeth?

Unlike the store bought variety of sugar, your body naturally produces xylitol – up to 15 grams daily during metabolism.

It works by reducing unhealthy oral bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Some reports suggest that the number of bad bacteria may decrease by as much as 90%. One type of bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, is a key player in the development of cavities. By consuming xylitol, you are more likely to reduce that decay and prevent any possible gum disease.

Not only does it stop and prevent decay, this super sugar works overtime to neutralize the pH level in saliva and plaque, which prevents your enamel from being damaged more than it already is.

How can I incorporate xylitol into my daily routine?

There are so many ways to consume xylitol without going out of your way to do so. It is important to remember that just because you’re using this supplement does not mean that you should skip out on your regular brushing and flossing habits.

Try to consume it throughout the day rather than all at once. To maintain optimum oral health and prevent gum disease, a minimum of six grams is necessary to notice the benefits. Try taking it in 3-7 doses throughout the day.

You can incorporate it into your daily habits by:

  • Adding one to two granulated teaspoons to your water
  • Eating candies and chewing gum made with 100% xylitol
  • Using it as a nasal spray to reduce the bacteria found in your nose (this has been shown to alleviate symptoms in people with allergies and chronic nasal infections)

While there are not life-threatening side-effects of taking too much, excessive amounts (usually more than 20-30 grams) may lead to stomach pain and possibly diarrhea. Always keep it out of reach from your pets as it is extremely toxic to dogs.

If you’re looking for more information on the benefits of xylitol or other ways to combat tooth decay and gum disease, reach out to Dr. Andrea Stevens.

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