If you are diabetic, refrain from using added sugars, rather go for low-calorie sweeteners such as xylitol. It is also a substitute for sugar-free candies and xylitol gum.
You can also find it in dental floss, toothpaste and mouthwash.
It tastes exactly sweet like sugar, however, this sugar alcohol has significantly fewer calories.
Using xylitol will not raise your blood sugar levels rather it is also good for your dental health.
This article discusses the benefits and risks of using it.
Know how chewing xylitol gum can improve your dental health and why you should chew it often, below!
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that includes both sugar and alcohol molecules.
It is natural sugar alcohol present in many fruits and vegetables.
Surprisingly, it is also present in the human body.
It is produced in the body through metabolism.
Xylitol’s taste is sharper and sweeter than regular sugar but it40 percent less calories than that of regular sugar.
There are 4 calories per gram in table sugar while 2.4 calories per gram in xylitol.
Xylitol is a white crystalline powder.
It is extracted from a plant fiber i.e. xylan or from tree birch.
While xylitol and other sugar alcohols are technically carbohydrates, they do not raise blood sugar levels.
They do not qualify as net carbs.
This makes their use popular in low-carb products.
Hence, it can be a part of:
- nut butter
- ice cream
- cake mixes
- dental floss
Its use in oral products is as a cavity fighting agent and also to add flavor.
Yes, you heard it right!
Xylitol can also improve your dental health and fight cavities.
Plus, the alcohol in the name is safe for people who have alcohol addictions.
Its use in gums helps to produce saliva and keeps you safe from decay.
Let’s find out about that more below!
Xylitol Gum Benefits
Angular Cheilitis Treatment
Xylitol has anti-inflammatory properties.
It kills bacteria that result in plaque formation on the teeth and gums.
Hence, if you keep chewing a gum containing xylitol then it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and can relieve angular cheilitis.
These are mouth sores on the corner of your mouth and lips.
Xylitol in gums or mouthwashes kills the bacteria that form the sores and reduces the chance of getting the condition in people over 60 years of age.
Counteracting Bacteria to Prevent Cavities
Xylitol reduces bacterial growth and prevents plaque formation.
In fact, it is especially effective against Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sanguine.
These bacteria are responsible for plaque formation and chewing on a gum containing xylitol can reduce their growth significantly.
While the presence of some plaque is normal, excessive plaque will cause your immune system to fight against the bacteria.
This results in inflammation of the gums i.e. gingivitis.
Since the oral bacteria feed on sugars, they lack fuel when sugars are replaced by xylitol.
that said, they still ingest this sugar alcohol.
Once they do, they can no longer take up glucose.
This clogs their energy pathway as a result and they eventually die.
So if you consistently use xylitol as a sweetener or chew in gum with it, the bacteria in your mouth are starved.
What’s best, it only starves the harmful bacteria.
The good bacteria in your mouth remain consistent whereas levels of bad bacteria significantly decrease by 25 to 75 percent.
Thus it can decrease the chance of getting cavities and tooth decay by 30 to 85 percent.
Since the bacteria decrease, there is a lesser chance of getting gingivitis.
That decrease in inflammation can save you from several other chronic diseases and provide benefits for the rest of your body.
Dental Health Benefits of Xylitol Gum
Lubricates the Mouth
Like any other chewing gum, xylitol gum helps to lubricate the mouth and promotes saliva production.
When there is a good salivary flow, it prevents the accumulation of bacteria and plaque inside your mouth.
The saliva washes away the food particles and other
Thus, there are fewer chances of soreness, bad breath and cavities.
What’s more, if you have a dry mouth, chewing on xylitol gum can keep it moist.
A dry mouth has less saliva.
Hence. there are many germs and bacteria.
However, as the mouth moistens, the number of bacteria reduces as the saliva washes them away.
This also means that there will be a lesser chance of cavities and decay.
As saliva remineralizes teeth, increased stimulation of it will prevent your teeth from demineralizing often.
In fact, it can provide calcium ions to your enamel, strengthening it.
What’s more, xylitol helps to increase calcium absorption in the digestive system.
So, that way it can also strengthen teeth but not only that, it will also strengthen your bones.
It can provide protection against osteoporosis.
Similar to other chewing gums, xylitol gums also freshen your breath.
They contain flavorings such as mint and cinnamon that mask your bad breath.
Plus, as the sugar alcohol reduces bacteria, the smell decreases too.
The unpleasant odor stems from bacteria settling on the tongue.
When the bacteria significantly reduce and cannot multiply, they no longer settle on the tongue.
Taking other precautions such as using a tongue cleaner can also reduce the number of bacteria present in your mouth.
Hence, regularly chewing gum with xylitol can freshen your breath while a minty flavor can add to the masking effect.
Other than these, it also has benefits for your physical health.
Does Not Raise Blood Sugar Levels
Xylitol has a low glycemic index and no fructose.
Fructose and added sugar increases blood sugar levels and
It increases resistance to insulin and other metabolic problems later in life.
However, xylitol does not so it will not pose any harmful effects of fructose.
It raises blood sugar by only 7 GI whereas for sugar it is 60 to 70 GI.
Moreover, as it has a low GI and fewer calories, it is weight loss friendly.
You can add it is as a sweetener during a diet.
This leads us to…
Facilitate Weight Management
Besides having fewer calories, xylitol can also satiate you, helping you to feel fuller.
You can avoid taking sugar’s empty calories but eating sweets and gums only with xylitol.
It is more helpful in weight management than in reduction.
If you do not make any drastic changes to your diet, you can maintain your weight at this point by switching to xylitol.
An Alternative for Diabetics
As it does not raise blood sugar levels that high, diabetics can use xylitol in their daily lives instead of sugar.
In fact, it is also a good option for prediabetics and metabolic problems.
Reduces Ear and Yeast Infections
Bacteria present in the mouth can also lead to ear infections as there is a connection between the mouth, ear and nose.
This means that xylitol can also work on the bacteria causing an ear infection.
In fact, daily use of xylitol gum can reduce the infection rate by 40 percent.
It also hinders the ability of yeast to stick to surfaces and thus preventing infections such as yeast infection.
Besides these, there are other benefits and side effects of it too.
Let’s dig deeper into that below!
Xylitol Gum Side Effects and Other Benefits
- Supports blood glucose management in diabetics
- Decreasing the risk of getting respiratory infections
- Xylitol can result in more production of collagen, as a result, that rejuvenates your skin
- Improves digestive health by feeding friendly bacteria and becoming a soluble fiber in the gut
- It works to improve osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral and bone volume
- Reduces obesity as it becomes a sugar substitute
- There are lesser chances of getting constipation
Generally, consuming xylitol is safe for humans.
Long-term consumption is generally safe.
However, there can be some digestive side effects if it is consumed too much.
The sugar alcohols like xylitol pull water in the intestine.
Hence, that results in diarrhea, gas and bloating.
Though, the ley is to increase the intake slowly.
The body adjusts quickly to xylitol therefore, there will not be such side effects.
However, if you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome then avoid sugar alcohols.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that it is rather toxic to dogs.
They cannot handle it the way humans do.
If your dog accidentally eats some sugar alcohol, take them to the vet.
Other sweeteners such as aspartame have come under heat for evidence suggesting they can lead to cancer.
Though the current about set by the FDA is considered safe to use.
Among the two, sugar alcohols are a rather safer option.
Xylitol does not pose any serious health issue.
Hence, it is rather safe to use.
Chewing a xylitol gum is actually healthy.
It improves your oral health and also decreases bacteria.
Plus, it can manage your weight and strengthen your enamel.
Start chewing one per day and do not go near sugary chewing gums.
They are harmful to your oral and physical health.