Do you chew sugarless gum? If so, you just might be doing your smile a favor. The sweetener in sugarless gum is called xylitol, and numerous studies have shown the benefits of this substance when it comes to oral health. Here, Dr. James Oldham discusses xylitol and how it might help your smile.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance extracted from woody, fibrous plants. It tastes like sugar and has become a popular sugar substitute in gum and other products.
How Xylitol Help Oral Health
Let’s start with the basics of oral health. Our mouths are full of bacteria, many of which are removed when we brush and floss. Good saliva flow also helps “wash away” bad bacteria. These bacteria are fueled by the foods we eat, especially those of the sugary and starchy variety. As oral bacteria flourish, they produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel to cause cavities and attack gum tissue.
Oral bacteria do not like xylitol, so they don’t consume it. Without a food source, bacteria can’t thrive. In fact, xylitol has been shown to reduce decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. Studies also show that xylitol may deter bad oral bacteria from attaching to teeth and doing damage.
Xylitol gives you the sweet taste you love, without the sugar to fuel bacteria that can harm your smile.
There’s More Good News!
Adequate saliva flow is a key component of a healthy smile. Dry mouth occurs when saliva isn’t produced in sufficient levels. This lack of saliva lets bacteria grow unchecked, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Chewing gum increases saliva flow.
Some studies also indicate that xylitol may actually help repair damaged tooth enamel.
We make residents of Smithfield and surrounding areas smile! Call today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oldham.