Xylitol – Topical or Systemic?

Dear Dr. Ellie,

Thank you very much for sharing the oral health regimen you developed so industriously.  I wish my own dentists were as proactive (prevention oriented) as you are.  I have started on your program, and am very optimistic because, as a scientist myself (physicist), I can see the logic in what you have developed.

The more I understand how the components in your method work, the more likely I am to use them properly.  This is especially true of the xylitol. I tried to glean this from your blog, as well as from other publication (Scandinavian, mostly); but I just can’t find the definitive answer:

Does xylitol do its thing (pH balancing, MS removal) topically, systemically, or both?  That is, if I drink xylitol dissolved in water, do I want to hold it in my mouth for awhile, as much as possible?  Or do I simply need to swallow it, and get it digested and into my bloodstream?

Thank you very much,

Hi J,

Thank you for noticing the work I have put in to my mission! I don’t do this work for praise but it is very encouraging to find it helps others so much.

The dental effect of xylitol is topical not dependent on systemic absorption. (I have noted below the “systemic effects” of xylitol.)

There are two topical effects:

1) The first topical effect is dependent on adequate amounts of xylitol 
(6.5-10 grams daily) and adequate frequency of exposures( 5 or more exposures each day). Without sufficient exposure the population of Strep. mutans will not reduce. This effect could be produced by swishing and spitting out five times a day. Strep mutans bacteria ( plaque bacteria) absorb xylitol into their outer cell periplasm in the same way that they absorb any sugars into their cell.  Each time sucrose or carbohydrates are absorbed by Strep mutans bacteria they provide energy for the cell to reproduce, create sticky strands for adhesion and acids that destroy teeth by demineralization. Xylitol does not provide this energy to the cell because xylitol cannot be transported to the cell nucleoid.

Consequently the cell is unable to reproduce, unable to adhere to teeth and unable to produce acids.  The bacteria are therefore less dangerous to teeth, less sticky and easier to remove the next time you rinse or brush!

2) The second topical effect of xylitol comes from the fact that (as you consume xylitol) it stimulates alkaline saliva into the mouth and over teeth.  When alkaline saliva flows over teeth it helps remineralization ( once the
bacterial infection has been eliminated).  I believe 100 percent xylitol mints and gum provide better remineralization than drinking or swishing xylitol probably because taste stimulation enhances the flow of saliva.  For anyone trying to strengthen or repair teeth, I suggest mints or gum after meals ( 3 times a day) and perhaps the “swish” system (xylitol dissolved in water) at the other two times. It is really your choice of
application whatever works best for you!

Systemic effects of xylitol are the following: ( none of these have any dental impact)

1) Xylitol stabilizes blood glucose levels good for hypoglycemics and diabetics

2) xylitol appears to protect muscle from catabolic breakdown (this is a link to a body building website that describes this in more detail: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/xylitol.htm)

3) People eating xylitol appear to develop healthy gut flora ( xylitol does contribute fiber)

4) Some studies have suggested better uptake of calcium when xylitol is consumed and that it may be helpful for osteoporosis

5) Some studies from the 1960s have suggested xylitol helps cut sugar and other cravings( may link to blood sugar levels)

Hope this answers your question!
Best Wishes,
26 Corporate Woods
Rochester, NY 14623

Categories: Demineralization

Tags: ,