November 12th, 2015
Want to chew gum? Do it! As long as there’s xylitol in it, your dentist will approve. Xylitol is the perfect sugar alternative. Not only does it not cause tooth decay. It’s also good for your teeth. Yes, you heard that right. Something that tastes as wonderful as sugar actually benefits your teeth. Let’s take a look at why.
What is Xylitol?
Though it tastes like magic, xylitol can actually be all natural. It’s a five-carbon sugar alcohol compound. What does that mean? It’s not actually sugar or alcohol. Instead, it’s a carbohydrate that looks and tastes like sugar. But instead of damaging your teeth, xylitol actually protects it.
Xylitol is found naturally in plants, berries, and vegetables. It can also be manufactured from starches and sugar. Unfortunately, since we eat so much sugar, we can’t get enough xylitol from the foods we eat to sufficiently help our teeth. That’s why we brush, floss and take xylitol supplements.
How does it benefit your teeth?
To understand how Xylitol helps protect your teeth, you have to first understand how you get cavities. According to Registered Dental Hygienist, the average American consumes about 31 teaspoons of sugar every single day. Our teeth aren’t made to eat that much sugar. Inevitably, all of this sugar leads to tooth decay, usually in the form of cavities. The sugar in food causes bacteria in your mouth to grow. These bacteria create hungry acids that eat away at your teeth, causing tooth decay.
Bad bacteria can’t digest xylitol to grow like it digests sugar. In fact, xylitol works to keep the pH level neutral in your mouth. The less acidic your pH levels are, the fewer bacteria will grow and the better off your teeth will be.
Xylitol also stops bacteria from sticking to your teeth. So even if there are bacteria in your mouth after taking xylitol, it’s much less likely that the bacteria will damage your teeth because it can’t stick on to them.
Thanks to increased pH levels, xylitol also promotes enamel repair. As pH levels get higher than 7, calcium and phosphate salts in your saliva help to rebuild weak enamel.
Where can you get Xylitol?
Now that you know great xylitol is for your mouth, you’re probably wondering where you can get some. Since you usually eat sugar during the day, you should try taking xylitol throughout the day as well. You should always look for xylitol in toothpaste and mouthwash. Most of the big names in toothpaste and mouthwash include xylitol because of its benefits.
Since it can be inconvenient to carry your toothbrush and mouthwash around all day, it’s beneficial to have another source of xylitol on hand. Gum, candy and mints frequently have xylitol in them. These products can help you battle bacteria throughout the day. A 1998 article from The British Dental Journal writes that chewing gum containing xylitol prevents cavities and promotes enamel remineralization. You can also find the sweetener in corncobs and stalks.
Consuming xylitol is one of the tastiest ways to keep your teeth healthy! Find out more about the benefits of xylitol and the best places to get it from by contacting the number one Chicago dental practice, Water Tower Dental Care. We would be happy to put you on the right track to a healthy and happy smile.
February 20th, 2014
We’ve all been taught since a very young age that candy is the ultimate destroyer against teeth. However, new candies developed by scientists are turning that old story around. Now, there are several new candies (along with some older) that have beneficial attributes.
Scientists in Berlin have recently created candy that contains good bacteria that fights against certain cavity-building bacteria. The main bacteria that cultivate in your mouth and eats away at the surface of your teeth, dissolving enamel and creating cavities, is a bacterium called Mutans streptococci. Scientists have found that a different bacterium called Lactobacillus paracasei is able to fight against and reduce the levels of the bad bacteria in the mouth. In a study testing different levels of the good bacteria in pieces of candy compared to a control group with normal candy, scientists were able to reduce the levels of Mutans streptococci by 75% in the groups with good bacteria candy compared to the control. You can find the full study published in the Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins.
Though that candy might significantly help your teeth, you probably won’t find it in the sweets aisle anytime soon. However, there are other candies, available today, that are definitely better for your teeth than others. If you are to eat candy, here’s the kind we recommend.
While most chewing gums can hurt your teeth by allowing harmful sugars and acids to build in your mouth while consistently chewing, there are actually a few good chewing gums. Recently the ADA has approved certain gums for their beneficial elements to teeth. Most importantly, all ADA approved chewing gums are sugarless and sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sorbitol. These gums are able to increase the flow of saliva without creating a harmful environment for your teeth. In fact, the increased flow of saliva can help flush away previous acids and debris. Look for an ADA seal on the gum to be sure you’re chewing the right kind.
Similar to the ADA-approved chewing gum, sugar-free candies help increase the flow of saliva, which can actually flush out the mouth of bad bacteria and help prevent cavities. If you need a hard candy, we wouldn’t recommend anything other than sugar-free. However, be aware that these candies can still hurt your teeth if you bite down on them, so make sure to consume the candy slowly and save your teeth from unnecessary damage.
Though dark chocolate is loaded with sugar, and not the best your teeth, enough studies have shown that the candy contains a rich amount of antioxidants that are good for the rest of your body, especially your heart. Sometimes it’s okay to sacrifice a minute of sugar in your mouth for the rest of your body. Just follow our advice as to how to consume sugar and you should be fine.
Of course, there are plenty of candies you can choose that are terrible for your teeth. Chewy candies and sour candies are definitely the worst as they can get caught in your teeth for days between the backs of molars. As well, they contain high levels of acid that can quickly break down tooth enamel and produce cavities. Avoid these candies at all costs.
Remember, the best defense to fight those bad bacteria and preventing cavities is practicing proper oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. You’ll find that a little piece of candy every so often won’t be the worst thing in the world. Just be careful, though Water Tower Dental loves to see all of our patients’ smiling faces as often as possible, but we hate when we have to inform them of cavities. Keep your teeth clean and your smile bright.