Can a Sugar Substitute Help You Fight Cavities?

One of the biggest problems in America in terms of diet is the high amount of sugar that we eat on a daily basis. This matters not just when it comes to your waistline, but also when it comes to your teeth. One way to reduce your sugar intake is to substitute xylitol for sugar. Xylitol isn’t an artificial sugar, it’s a natural relative to sugars that has about a third fewer cavities, and it has another benefit–it has antibacterial properties that can reduce your risk of cavities or gum disease.

Where Does Xylitol Come from?

sugarXylitol is a natural sugar alcohol. It’s found naturally in many different foods you eat, just in smaller amounts than other types of sugars. For example, it’s in oats, mushrooms, raspberries, and strawberries. But it’s not present in high enough amounts to derive it from these sources for the purposes of industrial production.

Instead, production of xylitol is done with corncobs and wood, both of which contain the wood sugar xylose, which can be fermented to xylitol.

How Xylitol Prevents Cavities

Xylitol has powerful antibacterial properties. Its secret is that it’s like sugar, but isn’t sugar. It’s so similar to sugar that bacteria can’t help but take it in. But they can’t digest it like they can sugar. So they end up with a full “stomach” of food they can’t eat, and it kills them. This means that you will have less bacteria producing less acid that can damage your tooth enamel.

Meanwhile, your body is also responding to the xylitol as if it were sugar–producing saliva that further helps suppress the bacteria. And it’s possible that xylitol has other benefits for your teeth, too. One study showed that xylitol could actually remineralize teeth.

Adding Xylitol to Your Diet

If you are looking to cut down on sugar but still keep life sweet, you can try xylitol. Most people say xylitol has no aftertaste and tastes just like sugar, but it’s best to try it out before you invest too heavily. Try some sugar-free gums with xylitol in them to see if you have any problem with them.

After that, buy a little bit and try it as a sweetener in coffee or tea. If you’re still happy with the taste of xylitol, then you can experiment with it for baking.

Here are some tips for using xylitol in baking:

  • Substitute 1:1 with sugar
  • Xylitol absorbs more moisture, so you might have to add a little extra liquid to your recipes
  • Xylitol won’t caramelize and can’t be use to feed yeast in a bread recipe

And remember: increase your consumption gradually. It’s not quite sugar, and your body might not like it as much. Some people get some minor cramps or gas, but many people do just fine. If you’re in that lucky group, you can keep enjoying your sweets and not worry as much about your teeth or your weight.

If you have more questions about keeping your teeth healthy even if you have a sweet tooth, please call 303-759-5652 today for an appointment with a Denver dentist at Park Meadows Dental Care.