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A number of my patients have come to me asking for more information about the benefits of Xylitol and Xylitol gum for maintaining healthy teeth. Today I’d like to address some of their questions and provide more facts about Xylitol.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sweetener first discovered in birch tree bark and also found in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is actually good for your teeth, unlike many other natural or synthetic sweeteners. Numerous clinical studies have shown that Xylitol does indeed prevent the growth of bacteria that causes decay. It also helps to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce plaque. Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria; they simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol-rich environment.

What are other benefits of Xylitol?

In addition, it not only has fewer calories and less effect on blood sugar than sucrose, but xylitol also inhibits the creation of acid in the mouth. This minimizes the damage done to your teeth, as well as allowing your teeth to heal at a faster rate. Xylitol has a low glycemic index of 7, compared to sugar's level of 83.

Because Xylitol is low on the glycemic index, many diabetic patients can enjoy it as a healthy alternative to sugar. When patients at my Minneapolis Dental Office complain about frequent dry mouth, I can confidently recommend Xylitol gum or mints to stimulate saliva production without promoting tooth decay.

Is using Xylitol gum a substitute for brushing and dental exams?
The answer to this question is a resounding “No!” If you cannot brush your teeth after a meal, chewing Xylitol gum for five or ten minutes is probably a good idea. However, you should still brush your teeth thoroughly after meals and get routine exams and dental cleanings at your Saint Paul Highland Park Dentist.

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