The Power of Xylitol

Zellies Mints and Gum taste great, but do you know the real reason you should be using them after meals, snacks and acidic drinks? Here’s the low-down on the powerful, natural ingredient found in all Zellies products…xylitol! 

What Does Xylitol Do? 

Xylitol not only rids the mouth of sticky harmful bacteria, it actually promotes the growth of tooth-protective, non-acidic bacteria. Plaque bacteria use sucrose and carbohydrates from our diet to grow and multiply. They create sticky threads that allow them to attach to the tooth surface and each other to form thick layers and acids that damage teeth.

When plaque bacteria absorb xylitol, they cannot multiply, produce acids, or stick to teeth. Eating products like Zellies Xylitol Gum and Zellies Xylitol Mints means less plaque will form on teeth, and eventually plaque bacteria may be undetectable in the mouth. Xylitol also raises mouth pH and encourages mineral-rich saliva to flow into the mouth. This can protect and remineralize teeth by repairing the deep layers of enamel.

How Does Xylitol Work? 

Here’s a more detailed, scientific version of the process.

Xylitol has a beneficial effect on the bacterial flora found in the mouth, nose, and throat.

A bacteria cell has an outer layer called cytoplasm. This portion of the cell surrounds a spaghetti pile of DNA called a nucleoid.

When products containing sugar or carbohydrates are consumed, sugar will dissolve in saliva and be absorbed by bacteria in plaque on teeth. The sugar is absorbed into the cytoplasm layer and then is transported to “feed” the cell with energy to reproduce and multiply.

Xylitol is readily absorbed by plaque bacteria, where it travels into the cell cytoplasm. The difference is that the cell lacks the mechanism to provide energy for the cell to multiply and reproduce. Furthermore the cell tries to expel the xylitol, and expends energy trying to push the xylitol away and out of the cell. Because the bacteria cell uses its energy to expel the xylitol, it is less able to stick to teeth and is therefore more easily removed by tooth cleaning. Xylitol has also interfered with acid production by the cell and prevented reproduction. This process of using energy to no purpose is called a futile cycle.

As harmful bacteria are cleaned away, new xylitol-resistant bacteria take their place. These new bacteria do not produce acids, do not damage teeth and do not form sticky layers of plaque. These bacteria appear to form a protective coating over teeth – fighting off intruding bacteria and protecting enamel from things that may harm teeth.

Why is Xylitol Better for Teeth Than Other Sugarless Sweeteners? 

Xylitol is a small 5 carbon alcohol and has completely different chemistry from other similar-sounding sweeteners commonly found in commercial products. Most sugarless sweeteners have large 6 carbon molecules, making them too big to penetrate the protoplasm of a bacteria cell. These sugarless sweeteners may not feed bacteria cells, but they don’t kill the cells like xylitol.

Bacteria learn to process sorbitol, commonly found in commercial sugarless gum and candy, after about three exposures. Harmful bacteria cells are able to set up pathways that allow sorbitol to transport into the cytoplasm and provide energy to the cell. Plaque bacteria use this energy from sorbitol to grow and multiply. This can lead to thicker plaque and may even give rise to acid reflux conditions in the throat and stomach.

The Benefits of Xylitol 

Continuous use of xylitol creates a desirable environment for healthy mouth bacteria and an undesirable environment for unhealthy plaque bacteria. After 5 weeks of eating at least 6 grams of xylitol each day, sticky plaque bacteria will no longer be found on teeth. After 6 months of continuous xylitol use, these bacteria will be undetectable in saliva, on teeth and on the tongue. You can get started today with Zellies.


For more information, please visit all of Dr. Ellie’s web-sites:

Dr. E Oral Health Coaching – a number of articles, resources and videos to help you learn more – learn more  and order your Zellies Xylitol & the Complete Mouth Care System
Dr. – a great resource for learning more about oral health and Dr. Ellie

And join the conversation online on the Zellies Facebook page!

Categories: Acidity, Cavities, Natural Solutions, Plaque, Prevention, Xylitol

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  • […] also on your tongue and skin of your mouth. This is why mouth rinsing makes so much sense and why xylitol makes Zellies Complete Mouth Care System amazing. Adequate amounts (6-10 grams) of xylitol daily […]

  • […] an infant or toddler with cavities, I recommend frequent applications of small amounts of xylitol, wiped or brushed onto teeth during the day, to rid the mouth of harmful bacteria and promote […]

  • Heather says:

    Does granular xylitol work if you disolve it in your mouth and swish it for 2-5 minutes and spit it out or do you have to ingest it?

    • drecoaching says:

      Xylitol dissolves in the saliva in your mouth and this sweet solution works to rid your teeth of bad bacteria and promote healthy ones.

      This solution will also help to remineralize and strengthen the deeper layers of a tooth – improving the “outer shell” of your teeth.
      Yes, xylitol will work if you swish and spit, but you will miss some of xylitol’s other benefits.

      Xylitol is viewed as “fiber” by your digestive system.
      It travels through the stomach and in the intestine ferments to form short chain fatty acids, like many other fibrous plants and vegetables.
      The by-product of this breakdown may be important for good absorption of calcium into the body.
      There are studies to show that xylitol may help with osteoporosis and may also help alkalize the body to some degree.

      Don’t take a lot of xylitol at once until your body is used to it.
      Xylitol is hygro-scopic ( which means it pulls water to itself).
      If you consume a lot of xylitol at once – it will do its “water-pulling” in your intestine – and that may give you some temporary and inconvenient (but not unhealthy) digestive issues!

      So either way xylitol will work for your mouth.
      I suggest consuming a small amount of xylitol (5-10 grams) over the course of the day (best after meals, snacks & acidic drinks) – for you and your teeth!

  • […] Xylitol will also help protect kids from “inheriting” bad teeth, passed from generation to generation in a family. […]

  • […] baby teeth with a solution of granular xylitol in water helps develop a healthy garden, or bacterial ecosystem, in a baby’s mouth. Xylitol does […]

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  • […] Zellies Gum. Take this small step and see the difference. (Check out our recent article on “The Power of Xylitol: How Xylitol Works” for more information on how xylitol can improve oral […]

  • […] as I am about the benefits of xylitol, I am the first to admit that sometimes there is more to do for oral health than just eating […]

  • Bob Eisele says:

    I am a throat cancer survivor and have been using fluoride (Colgate Prevident 1.1% sodium floride gel) trays daily for the last 4 1/2 years.. I am concerned about fluoride toxicity. Can I use zylitol instead of fluoride and what form of zylitol would I use?

    • Fluoride and xylitol are not interchangeable. They have different functions. On the other hand, when you use the correct fluoride and xylitol products together, they work synergistically – which allows you to benefit when using far more dilute fluoride, and it is quite likely you will enjoy improved results.

      I wrote a chapter about fluoride in my book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye to explain concerns about strong fluoride and why I recommend only two fluoride products (Crest Cavity Protection paste and the original formulation of ACT 0.05% dilute fluoride mouth rinse). I believe it is far safer to spit out the fluoride after rising than use the stronger fluoride in trays.

      The other components of the system amplify the benefits. You can read about the Complete Mouth Care System in the link below. It will be interesting the next time you are at your dentist’s office to see if they notice a difference in your mouth. It’s possible they will be amazed at the improvements – so let us know when this happens! Enjoy your Zellies – but please consider the rest of our suggestions to care for your teeth. Here is the link to the booklet:

      • Barbara says:

        Well, well.
        You had me, until you advise & promote Fluoride.
        I would not be the least bit surprised if the gentlemans throat cancer wasn’t in part, accentuated by the years of the Tixic, Fluiride, which has, more and more, been exposed for what it is. A ‘waste-chemical’ with no place in a human body !

        • I have made my case for and against fluoride often and in blog posts, talks, video, and an entire chapter in my book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye. I have never been on either “side” of the fluoride debate because I see the truth as being close to the middle of the line between good and evil. I agree that most forms of fluoride are toxic and that drinking fluoride should not be recommended. I have been an advocate to take fluoride out of drinking water for decades. On the other hand, safely using topical fluoride to avoid the toxicity of root canals and fillings makes sense. I know many “anti-fluoride” folks who ended up with wrecked or lost teeth, crowns and root canals, and they certainly could have avoided these treatments easily by using my suggested system of care. I believe the health consequences caused by these dental treatments are far more of a concern than the judicious use of a little topical sodium fluoride.

  • Judi Flanders says:

    I have pain in a molar. It either needs a root canal or has to be pulled. I know that some root canals are not good. How do I know which to have done to the molar? Also do you recomend a dentist for root canals and/or extractions in the Rochester area?

    • The important thing about a root canal is to ensure that the root filling is as perfect as possible. Problems come if bacteria remain in the root canal. This is why I personally recommend an endodontist do root canals – since this is the only dental treatment they do – all day – every day of the week – year after year. Good endodontists become VERY expert – as you can imagine!

      In Rochester I was trained by Manuel Hoyo – an endodontist in the Mount Reed area – who is exceptional. Don’t forget that after a successful root canal has been done – you must immediately have a crown made to cover over the tooth.
      My last piece of advice is that you should consider changing the way you look after your teeth – because something is not working! Check out suggestions -and think about Zellies and the Complete Mouth Care System!

      • Barbara says:

        Would you consider, doing some research into the ‘apparent ‘ connections between Root Canals, and Breast Cancers, in some women ?

        • I am not in a position to do this research, but I do believe poorly executed root canals can leave an area of chronic inflammation around the tooth concerned. Chronic inflammation most certainly is unhealthy anywhere in the body. Chronic inflammation from gum disease has been linked with many general health problems and even with some cancers.

  • kgalalelo says:

    What advice can you give me. I have an 18months old son who cant stop drinking milk milk at night. I tried giving him water at night instead,he refused. Im very concerned about his teeth that they might eventually decay. I try to brush him everyday but its not easy,he doesnt let me brush thoroughly. Please help!

    • There is an easy answer! Thanks for your question!
      Don’t stress about milk – there is NO science to show whole milk is bad for teeth – in fact there are many studies that show the opposite. Whole milk and cheese is cariostatic ( it stops caries/tooth decay). On the other hand it is vital to realize that formula milk, skim milk, and 1% milk are as bad for teeth as soda – because they contain a high percentage of sugars.
      Your child’s teeth will be safe if you use whole milk (and you can dilute it with water if you are concerned about it being too thick). Add a teaspoon of granular xylitol if you want to make this an even more tooth-protective drink! Xylitol will only dissolve at room temperature – so dissolve the granules in warm water and then add this solution to the milk.

      Many kids have milk drinks (even in bottles) for the first years of their life – with no dental problems.Give your child additional xylitol during the day to promote healthy bacteria in his mouth. One Zellie Polar Bear after everything he eats or snacks on will work great. Now you can relax about the need for toothbrushing … yes, really – toothbrushing does not equal prevention from cavities!!

      Let me know if you need more help. Avoid juices – and keep sweet or acidic drinks to mealtimes.
      Here is a link to our ZellieBears on our shopping cart:

  • Faith Naujoks says:

    Somewhere in your information I read not to use xylitol which has sorbitol in it and yet the ACT Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash and Crest CAVITY PROTECTION Regular Paste both have sorbitol in it. Does the sorbitol interfere with the xylitol?

    • Eating sorbitol is the problem . Sorbitol feeds plaque when it is in sustained contact and and when there is adequate dosage. The main problem with sorbitol is by chewing gum that contains sorbitol – and people often think it is safe, since it is “classified” as “sugarless”. The “symptoms” experienced are gum irritation called gingivitis and acid reflux.

  • Faith Naujoks says:

    My dentist told me today that I have dry mouth (this is a new condition) and recommended Oasis. I am faithfully following your program and do not know what is causing the dry mouth. I take nutraceuticals and 2 homeopathics under a holistic Dr.’s care.
    The only RX’s I take are 2 different glaucoma drops. What can I do? Also I try to avoid sodium laurel sulfate but the Crest Cavity Protection Toothpaste has it. Can I substitute another toothpaste.

    • Oasis and other “dry mouth” products usually contain a tiny amount of xylitol – not anything like as much as a Zellie’s mint – but enough to make a mouth feel better! I suggest you stay with Zellie’s although you can certainly also use the mouth spray …which I think it should not be a problem. (FYI: Many dry mouth products are acidic and harm teeth)
      I’d suggest you think about your digestive health and focus on an alkalizing diet. Perhaps you should also avoid sipping water all day – it can develop a difficult “cycle”. Some N.D’s that I follow suggest it is better to drink liquid at once – not constantly sipped. This is also better for your teeth. Here is a link to a post about that:

  • Christina Androski says:

    Dr. Ellie, the Crest you recommend has Blue 1 in it. I don’t really like to use things with such artificial ingredients. What are your thoughts on this ingredient?

    • Don’t eat toothpaste! Also it is not for young children under 6 if they consume toothpaste. Use only a “pea” size amount and rinse it off your teeth by making it part of the Complete Mouth Care System. The benefits of having healthy teeth and avoiding toxic fillings, plastics and other dental interventions FAR outweighs the couple of minutes that you have this in your mouth. I wish I had another paste to suggest for you – but I don’t!

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