5 posts categorized "Xylitol"

March 02, 2011

Sweet! (or why do you talk about xylitol so much?)

Xylitol structure It's true.  I'm pretty excited about Xylitol.  So why would an artificial sweetener be so exciting to me?

Because it's sugar that prevents cavities!  For real!  Seriously, how cool is that?

"No way," you say.  "Can't happen.  Sugar causes cavities.  That's why I'm supposed to feel ashamed when I eat Whoppers."

Xylitol is actually a "sugar alcohol."  It's a naturally occuring chemical that has a sweetness identical to table sugar, so it's a pretty good sweetener in foods.  But the coolest thing about sugar alcohols...they can't be digested into acid by mouth bacteria.1,2  The best description I've heard about what xylitol does to oral bacteria goes kind of like this...

  1. Unsuspecting oral bacteria eat delicious xylitol 
  2. They can't metabolize it.  In the same way that you and I can't metabolize dietary fiber.  
  3. For as long as their exposed to it, it keeps the bad bugs from creating acids on our teeth

Not a bad deal, right? 

Xylitol_crystals Xylitol has a couple down sides.  First, it isn't calorie free.  We often think of artificial sweeteners as having no calories (think Nutrasweet, Splenda).  Xylitol has equivalent sweetness to table sugar but it's got roughly half the calories of it.  So not bad, but not perfect.  The other thing...sugar alcohols in high amounts can cause diarrhea.  It's not because your sick but because chemically they draw water out of the large intestine.  A lot of dietary candies (Atkins' diet candy in particular) are sweetened with sugar alcohols and you really need to watch your intake.  Not fun.

The other down side is that xylitol is a pretty expensive ingredient.  It's cheaper to use other artificial sweeteners for sugarless items.  So you kind of have to look for it.  I'll often use Google or Amazon.com to point out which gums or candies are flavored with xylitol.

So, check out some xylitol.  Maybe you'll become as excited about it as I am!  Or maybe not.

Questions or comments?  Would you like to make an appointment with Saginaw's premiere blogging dentist? (me...that's me!)  Feel free to call the office at (989) 799-9133 or email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com.  I always answer my own emails!

February 23, 2011

On chewing gum

Chewing-gum3972 Chewing gum can be good for your teeth.  It also can be bad for your teeth and your jaw joint.  Chewing gum will stimulate saliva, which is the major natural defense your teeth have against cavities.  

There are two rules that I have for chewing gum.  Two and a half, really.  They are simple and they are to be followed.  Failure to follow them may cause this Saginaw dentist to hunt you down, call you silly names and revoke your license to chew.

  1. Chew sugarless gum.  Preferably containing Xylitol.  There are so many foods and drinks that have an insane amount of sugar in them and many of these don't have good sugarless options.  There are a ton of really good sugarless gums.  They'll stimulate saliva flow after meals and make your mouth feel fresh but they don't give cavity bugs anything to eat.  Win-win.
  2. Chew for 5 minutes or when the flavor is gone, whichever is shorter.  The hard core gum chewers hate this.  Your jaw joints suffer wear and tear like any other joints.  I recommend that you don't overuse them.  I would compare gum chewing all day long with cracking your knuckles.  It's a kind of nervous habit.  My evidence is completely anecdotal, but patients that are heavy gum chewers often have a "jaw pop."  It doesn't necessarily lead to problems or pathology, but it can be annoying.  So don't chew too long.

     2.5. If you have braces or an orthodontic appliance, don't chew gum.

These are the rules.  You know the consequences.  Chew wisely.


Questions?  Comments?  Do hard core gum chewers want to send me angry emails?  Email me at: alan@meadfamilydental.com.  I return all of my own email and would be happy to answer questions!

February 14, 2011

Top 5 Xylitol sweets for your sweetie on Valentine's Day!


I've already suggested what not to give on Valentine's Day.  Here's some suggestions for a "tooth-friendly" Valentine's Day sweets for your sweetie!

5. Sparx Berry Candy   Berry Sparx

4. Xylitol Lollipops   Dr. John's Suckers

3. Ricochet Sours   Ricochet Sours

2. Caramels and Chews   Caramels:chews

1. Dr. John's Hard candies   Dr. John's Hard Candies


We hope you have a sweet Valentine's Day!

October 04, 2010

I was wrong...

Ice Cubes Remember that time when I told you about that Ice Cubes gum with xylitol?  Well, I was kind of wrong about that.  

The only flavor that I'm sure has xylitol is Spearmint.  I think Peppermint does too, but I'm not positive.  I was checking out all the flavors in a gas station and found that most of the flavors don't contain xylitol as a sweetener.

So, if you're taking my advice about chewing sugarless gum after meals and you are going so far as to buy the gum that I'm recommending...get Spearmint.  Or check the label.  

September 13, 2010

Attention gum chewers...

This is what you should be chewing. IceCubes_Gum_full  

Before I'm accused of being a corporate shill for Hershey's (I can see the headlines: "Saginaw Dentist Sells Out to Chocolate Company!") let me explain.

It seems that Ice Breakers Ice Cubes are the only gum sweetened with xylitol that can be found easily in stores. There are a ton of xylitol gums out there, but I just haven't seen them around.  If anyone else has, please feel free to comment and prove me wrong.

Why should you care?  Because xylitol is proven to be good for teeth.  Specifically, xylitol cannot be broken down by the bad bacteria found in your mouth in the same way that regular sugars are.  Which means that xylitol cannot be used to create acid by those bacteria, which means that this acid can't attack your teeth and cause cavities.  

Even better is the fact that xylitol is taken up by the bad bacteria and they can't do anything with it.  For lack of a better description...it kind of constipates them!  Over time, using a xylitol gum can actually change the make up of the bacteria in your mouth.  It actually gives the advantage to the "less bad" bacteria!  Cool stuff.

So all the gum chewers out there need to go out and try some xylitol gum.  Check the ingredients on the box and try it out.  Your teeth will love you for it!

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com.  We would love to hear from you!