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Mountain Connection

Chewing Xylitol gum can prevent cavities

10/04/2011 15:27, Published by Jacqueline, Categories: Health+Wellness



by Dr. Kelly Last


The most common infectious disease known to mankind is dental caries (cavities).

Cavities are formed when oral bacteria convert dietary sugars into acid that will weaken tooth enamel. It is difficult to avoid sugar in our diets since it is a hidden ingredient in many of our foods. Fortunately, a natural sugar substitute, called Xylitol, has been found to greatly decrease the risk of cavities in humans.

Xylitol, a sugar that occurs naturally in certain plants, proves to be effective in preventing cavities in all age groups. Xylitol looks and tastes like table sugar, only it has 40% fewer calories. It is a safe sugar substitute for diabetics. 

For cavity prevention, Xylitol has the ability to inhibit the growth of oral bacteria, reduce plaque formation, lower acid production and increases saliva flow, a plus for patients who suffer from dry mouth. Some studies show Xylitol may prevent middle ear infections in pre-schoolers.

The easiest way to ingest Xylitol is by chewing sugar-less gum or mints. Trident and Orbit sugar-less gums contain it. Xylitol can also be found in small packet-size for use in coffee or in bulk form like natural sugar. Stores specializing in health foods such as Natural Grocers or Whole Foods carry Xylitol products. Some toothpastes, such as Tom’s Whole Care and Biotene contain Xylitol. Read labels.

For maximum cavity prevention, the recommended daily intake of Xylitol is 6 to 10 grams per day, every day. That equals about 3 to 8 pieces of gum/day, not to be chewed all at once. 

The gum needs to be chewed for 5 minutes, and mints need to dissolve in the mouth. Xylitol is safe, but do not ingest over 60 grams/day because mild gastrointestinal effects can occur. It is difficult to exceed 60 grams in a single day.      

 Xylitol is a healthy alternative to sugar and great news for cavity-prone patients.

Contact Dr. Kelly S. Last, DDS, at La Plaza Laser Dentistry, 3092 Evergreen Parkway, #100, Evergreen 80439. Call 303-674-6264 or visit


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