Dr. Lisa Tam and Associates

General and Cosmetic Dentistry


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Suite 1102, 77 Bloor St. W.
Toronto ON M5S 1M2
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Infobyte on Xylitol

We hope that you will find this information useful.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is an all natural sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar. Xylitol is naturally occurring in many of the fruits and vegetables we eat on a daily basis. Once extracted and processed it yields a white, crystalline granule that can be used in any recipe that calls for sugar. It’s good for your teeth, stabilizes insulin and hormone levels, promotes good health and has none of the negative side effects of white sugar or artificial sweeteners. It contains only 2.4 calories per gram and is slowly absorbed as a complex carbohydrate. It has a low glycemic index which is beneficial for diabetic control.

Xylitol and Dentistry

Xylitol has been recommended in the use to combat against dry mouth (xerostomia) and cavities (caries). The combination of xylitol’s sweet taste and its intensely refreshing effect generates an extremely efficient increase of the oral pH and of salivary flow. Therefore, when you chew xylitol gum or use xylitol mints, it increases saliva in your mouth and alleviates the symptoms of dry mouth. Furthermore, xylitol is not metabolized by tooth decay-causing bacteria. Generally, bacteria uses the sugar in the mouth to produce lactic acid and polysaccharides. The lactic acid will then dissolve the tooth structure leading to tooth decay. Since xylitol cannot be used by these bacteria, food containing xylitol will not cause cavities.

Safety of Xylitol

Xylitol has no known toxic levels, though excessive use might cause a mild laxative effect which resolves as the body’s enzymatic activity adjusts. A large percentage passes through the body before the carbohydrates are absorbed, thereby making it safe for diabetics or anyone pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

Xylitol is approved for use by:

Clinically, Xylitol has been recommended for these populations: elderly, high dental caries risk, low carb diets, oncology, pediatrics, pregnant women, Sjorgen’s syndrome, and xerostomia.

History of Xylitol

During World War II, Finland was suffering from a sugar shortage and with no domestic supply of sugar, they searched for, and rediscovered, an alternative – xylitol. It was only when xylitol was stabilized that it became a viable sweetener in foods. Researchers also discovered xylitol’s insulin–independent nature (it metabolizes in the body without using insulin).