Dear Dr. Ellie,
Question about xylitol for you: I have purchased xylitol granules for use as a sweetener. I put it in yogurt and oatmeal. It says right on the package.. “good for teeth”, etc… Is it good only if it comes in contact with the teeth? or is it good for teeth via entering the blood stream? If it is good for teeth by direct contact.. should I make a xylitol and water solution and swish it around in my mouth? Should I leave it in my mouth for a certain length of time? 30 seconds, 1 minute?
Xylitol is one sugar that I believe is a good alternative for sweetening foods (along with raw honey, stevia etc) BUT…. Xylitol has a very specific benefit to teeth (that the other sweeteners do not).
To understand what is going on you have to know about some sugar experiments in the 1950s.
Lab animals were put in cages and fed sugar all day long no cavities. Why no cavities? because they had NO bacteria in their mouths (they were raised in bacteria-free conditions).
This tells you that in order to have cavities you need some kind of bacteria in addition to sugar(wipe them out and you will not get cavities even if you consume sugar). The scientists added different kinds of mouth bacteria to the cages still no cavities. Then they added an acid-loving streptococcus mutans strain…..suddenly cavities everywhere even on the teeth of the pups born to these “infected” animals (so we know that acid loving strep mutans is the problem)
1.Harmful acid-loving strep mutans bacteria use sugar and carbohydrate from the diet to produce acids in the mouth.
2.These acids destroy teeth.
3.The sugar allows acid-loving strep mutans bacteria to produce sticky strings that allow bacteria to form layers plaque
The good news!
Harmful strep mutans cannot recognize the difference between carbohydrate, sugar and xylitol, so they absorb xylitol from your diet BUT …..
Xylitol binds their proteins, cuts off acid production and stops their sticky strings being …. No acids, no growth of bad bacteria, no plaque on teeth!
Xylitol will achieve this even if you are eating it in cookies, yogurt or as a sweetener in foods etc. Providing you consume at least 6.5 grams a day for 6 months you will reduce (to virtually nil) the plaque/strep mutans on your teeth. It is most effective to consume at the end of a meal ( because the population of strep mutans grows X2-X3 at the end of a meal)
Also if you eat xylitol (or rinse with it) after eating you will raise the pH in your mouth and help to put some minerals into your teeth as an added bonus. How can a dentist not love xylitol?
Nice to hear from you,