Welcome back everybody! Today, we're talkin' anti-cavity weaponry. One of the favorites from the arsenal is Xylitol.
Certain ingredients in food products have exceptional anti-cavity properties, and you should look out for them. One such ingredient is Xylitol; it’s a naturally occurring sweetener that can fend off bacteria like nobody’s business. In addition, it has the ability to de-acidify a mouth, and even promote remineralization of “pre-cavities” before they turn into full blown tooth decay.
Xylitol does this by tricking the bacteria in your mouth into thinking it’s sugar, which is their normal feast of feasts. However, just as those notorious sugar bugs consume it, they realize that it wasn’t sugar at all. In fact, the bacteria begin to starve because they can’t convert the xylitol into life-giving energy. When bad bacteria are starving, that’s a good thing for you. Xylitol also makes your salivary glands produce more saliva. This is fantastic, because saliva has an abundant supply of healthy minerals to help recharge the teeth. It also has the added bonus of flushing away bacteria and the acid they produced. This decreases the overall acidity in your mouth, which means less cavities!
The dosage of xylitol is important, in regards to both its effectiveness in the benefits described earlier and its potential side effects. Side note: Xylitol is extremely bad for dogs, because, unlike in humans, consuming xylitol causes the dog’s pancreas to release too much insulin which can lead to a host of serious problems, and even death. So make sure to keep your stash of xylitol mints far out of your puppy’s reach!
As for humans, a safe dose is anywhere between 6-10g per day. Beyond that, the risk for diarrhea does increase; for most people though, you need to overshoot the 6-10g mark by a LOT before you start seeing side effects. It is easiest to introduce xylitol into the diet by replacing sugary gum or candy with xylitol mints, candies or gum. One brand I personally recommend is X-Pur; they make both gum and mints, and there’s an adequate dose of Xylitol in each (1g per piece of gum, 1g per two mints). It’s then easy to remember that you should be limiting yourself to 6-10 pieces of gum (or 12-20 mints) per day to help reduce your oral acidity and decrease overall cavity risk.
You can find X-Pur mints and gums either at your local pharmacy, or if that fails, then on Amazon. Some dental offices carry them as well. I really like the flavour and use them all the time while I’m at work. So make sure to arm yourself (and your fam) with Xylitol-containing mints, gums and candies so you can be ready to tackle that nasty bacteria, AND enjoy a little treat along the way.
As always, thanks for reading!!
-Michael the Dentist
Dr. Michael Wenzel is a Dentist, Wedding Filmmaker and Aspiring YouTuber from Medicine Hat, Alberta. Michael loves technology and practices dentistry exclusively through surgical operating microscopes. He and his wife Natalia own a wedding photography and filmmaking company named Follow the Hope.