fbpx

Xylitol: Uses, effects, and possible benefits

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, which is a type of carbohydrate and does not actually contain alcohol. Xylitol occurs naturally in small amounts in fibrous fruits and vegetables, trees, corncobs, and even the human body.

Manufacturers use xylitol as a sugar substitute because its sweetness is comparable with that of table sugar but with fewer calories.

Xylitol is a common ingredient in many products, from sugar-free chewing gum to toothpaste. People also use xylitol as a table-top sweetener and in baking.

In this article, we look at the uses and potential health benefits of xylitol. We also cover its side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and alternatives.

Uses

Xylitol has a similar level of sweetness to sugar but with a fraction of the calories. It is a popular ingredient in a variety of products, including sugar-free gum and toothpaste.

Manufacturers add xylitol to a range of foods, including:

  • sugar-free candies, such as gum, mints, and gummies
  • jams and jellies
  • honey
  • nut butters, including peanut butter
  • yogurt

Xylitol is also an ingredient in some dental care products, including:

  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • other fluoride products

Xylitol sweeteners are available to purchase online.

Potential benefits

Xylitol has several potential health benefits, including:

Low glycemic index

Xylitol has a low glycemic index (GI). This means that consuming it does not cause spikes in blood glucose or insulin levels in the body. For this reason, xylitol is a good sugar substitute for people with diabetes.

Due to its low GI, xylitol is also a weight loss-friendly sugar substitute.

Also, a 2015 study revealed that xylitol had significant blood glucose-lowering effects in rats that ate high-fat diets.

Dental health

Xylitol is an ingredient in many dental hygiene products, including toothpaste and mouthwash. This is due to the fact that xylitol is non-fermentable, which means that the bacteria in the mouth cannot convert it into the harmful acid that causes tooth decay.

The oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans is largely responsible for plaque, which is the sticky, white substance that can accumulate on the outside of a person’s teeth.

Plaque binds lactic acid against the surface of the tooth. This acid breaks down the enamel and leads to tooth decay.

While it is normal for people to have some plaque on their teeth, excess amounts can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

A 2017 systematic review suggests that xylitol reduces the amount of S. mutans bacteria in the mouth, which reduces the amount of plaque and may help prevent tooth decay.

A 2014 study examined the effects of xylitol on Porphyromonas gingivalis, which is the bacterium responsible for gingivitis, or gum disease. If left untreated, excess amounts of P. gingivalis can move into the bloodstream and lead to systemic inflammation.

In the study, scientists grew samples of P. gingivalis in a laboratory and added them to human cell cultures pretreated with xylitol. They saw that xylitol increased the production of immune system proteins and inhibited the growth of the bacteria.

Side effects and safety

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved xylitol as a food additive. Xylitol is generally safe, but like other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea in some people.

It is worth noting that xylitol can be very toxic to dogs. It is vital to store products containing xylitol in a safe place that pets cannot reach. Anyone who thinks that their dog has consumed xylitol should call their veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center immediately.

Leer más

Eleven tips to treat white spots on teeth

Although people may see white spots on their teeth as undesirable, they rarely need to be a serious cause for concern from a medical point of view.

In this article, we look at the reasons why people might get white spots on their teeth, and provide 11 tips for treating and preventing them.

Causes

There are several possible causes of white spots on the teeth.

A common cause is dental fluorosis.

People usually get this when they are young if they consumed too much fluoride as a child. It is usually a harmless condition that only tends to develop before the teeth break through the gums.

Another common cause is enamel hypoplasia.

This condition occurs when a person’s teeth enamel does not form properly. Like fluorosis, hypoplasia only occurs during childhood when a person’s teeth are still developing. However, it can increase the risk of tooth decay.

Other causes of white spots on the teeth include poor dental hygiene, especially when someone is wearing braces, or eating too many acidic or sugary foods.

Treatments

There are several possible treatments for white spots on the teeth. The suitability of these treatments may depend on the underlying cause of the white spots and the condition of a person’s teeth.

1. Enamel microabrasion

Some people may be able to have microabrasion done to treat their white spots. During this procedure, a dentist removes a small amount of enamel from the teeth to reduce the appearance of the white spots.

This professional treatment is typically followed by teeth bleaching, which can make the teeth appear more uniform in color.

2. Teeth whitening or bleaching

Whitening or bleaching teeth can help to reduce the appearance of white spots and other stains. A variety of teeth whitening products, such as strips and paste, are available over-the-counter (OTC.) People can also buy these products online.

People with white spots can also see a dentist for professional whitening treatments. These treatments tend to use stronger bleaching solutions than those available OTC, which may make them work better.

3. Dental veneer

Dental veneers are thin, protective coverings that attach to the front surface of a person’s teeth. They can conceal white spots and other blemishes very effectively.

Dental veneers are only available from a dentist and must be professionally fitted. This can make them costly.

4. Topical fluoride

A dentist may apply topical fluoride to the teeth of people with enamel hypoplasia. This may encourage the development of enamel on the teeth and help prevent tooth decay.

5. Composite resin

For people with enamel hypoplasia, a dentist may apply composite resin to fill in cavities and to bond the outer enamel of the teeth. This may not be suitable if people have large numbers of white spots on their teeth.

Leer más