Gum disease and tooth decay are two of the most common conditions encountered by dentists and both of these are easily preventable by maintaining a high standard of oral hygiene throughout your lifetime. Patients should brush their teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time and be encouraged to use dental floss and use mouthwash as well.
Other factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, fizzy drinks, eating a diet high in sugar or acid should also be taken into account of course but reports continue to show that oral health can be linked with conditions such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Prevention of gum disease is better than cure and studies show that xylitol is one of nature’s ways of fighting gum disease.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar. It occurs naturally in many fruit and vegetables but the highest concentrations are to be found in sweetcorn, mushrooms, strawberries, raspberries, plums and oats. Xylitol has 40% less calories and was popular in Europe as early as the 19th century as a safe sweetener for people with diabetes that did not affect their insulin levels. Early studies from Finland in the 1970s found compared to chewing sucrose-flavored gum, xylitol resulted in nearly two fewer cavities or missing teeth. Further studies confirm what the Finnish discovered: that xylitol is a powerful weapon in the fight against dental plaque and in these studies when small amounts of xylitol was added to a regular sugar diet, there was a 90% reduction in tooth decay.
The incidence of decay and periodontal disease was reduced in both adults and children and research even suggests that by chewing xylitol based chewing gum 3 times a day new mothers show a statistically significant reduction in the chance of transmitting plaque causing bacteria to their children.
The American Dental Association positively supports the use of xylitol and it is easy to see why so many people are talking about it! Xylitol is a very versatile and easy to use product and can easily be incorporated into everyday eating habits using it as a direct sugar substitute in most circumstances.
Xylitol can be purchased in many large supermarkets including Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsburys for approximately £2.70 for a 225g bag.