Module 8: Xylitol

  • Xylitol occurs in nature – in fruits and vegetables and even in the human body. It is found most notably in the wood of birch and other hardwood trees.
  • Xylitol has a totally different molecular structure from other products with similar-sounding names. Xylitol is a unique PENTOSE sugar – with a long history of being a “health sugar”.
  • Xylitol has a been revered in Europe, Finland, Switzerland, Russia, Asia, China and other countries for decades. It was used as the original sugar substitute for diabetics.
  • After World War II doctors noticed children consuming xylitol daily had fewer middle ear infections. Xylitol can be used in nasal sprays for sinus health.
  • For 60 years, Finland has offered a preschool dental program - providing xylitol gum to children for 2 years, prior to the eruption of their adult molars.
  • Studies in the 1970’s showed xylitol offers many oral health benefits. Some studies involved pregnant women who ate xylitol gum for 15 months (during the last three months of their pregnancy and for a year after the baby was born). These children had 85% less decay at age 6, than children in control groups. 

How Much Xylitol Do We Need?

  1. Under 3 grams per day may not be sufficient to change your oral health.
  2. The ideal amount of xylitol to improve oral health is at least 6.5 grams daily for a period of 6 months.
  3. Frequent small amounts are more effective than larger amounts taken at once.
  4. Ideal time to enjoy xylitol is at the end of meals.
  5. It is ideal to allow stimulated saliva adequate time to heal teeth and gums after the use of xylitol (try to avoid sipping or snacking after having xylitol).
  6. Adding xylitol into liquids of any kind will reduce its effectiveness as the hygroscopic properties of xylitol are eradicated. It will still have benefits – but less.
  7. At a level of 10 grams per day, xylitol reaches a “plateau” where there are no additional oral health benefits. There may be some osteo-health benefits at slightly higher amounts.
  8. Using xylitol with dilute sodium fluoride in toothpaste and/or mouth rinses has been shown to exhibit a synergistic effect on mouth health.

Xylitol’s Positive Effect on Plaque

  1. Less plaque – plaque bacteria are unable to grow and thicken
  2. Lessens acidic damage to teeth (acids are generated by plaque bacteria)
  3. Layers of bacteria are unable to stick and form plaque and calculus
  4. Plaque is less sticky and more easily rinsed and brushed off teeth

Xylitol Nurtures a Healthy Oral Ecology

  1. Alkalizes the mouth (to promote a healthier ecology)
  2. Stimulates an increased flow of saliva (to wash plaque from teeth)
  3. Feeds healthy bacteria to create a healthier biofilm
  4. Plaque is less sticky and more easily rinsed and brushed off teeth
  5. Appears to reduce acid reflux (to promote a healthier ecology)
  6. Stimulates a flow of saliva (to avoid dry mouth conditions – which are a risk for poor oral health)
  7. Helps mineralize teeth and make them smooth and shiny (less plaque forms on shiny, smooth surfaces)
  8. Xylitol forms butyrate in the digestive tract – which may help improve digestive health and aid absorption of minerals (to improve saliva health). 
  9. Erupting baby teeth can be wiped with a solution of xylitol to balance oral health and encourage the formation of a healthy mouth ecology.
  10. Wiping baby teeth can prevent the formation of thick plaque (which may house anaerobic bacteria in low oxygen conditions on the inner surfaces of thick plaque. Anaerobic plaque bacteria can ferment milk and create lactic acids that damage teeth). Wiping baby teeth with xylitol a few times during the day will avoid any hazard from nursing on demand or nursing during the night.