When used regularly, the positive effects of xylitol are fourfold. When dissolved in the mouth, it promotes salivation. Saliva contains a high proportion of calcium phosphate, which is responsible for the formation and hardening of tooth enamel. Xylitol is thus associated with the remineralization of enamel.
Saliva also dilutes the existing acids in the mouth, raising the pH value and thus protecting the teeth because the bacteria responsible for tooth decay (Streptococcus mutans) require low pH values in order to stick to the teeth. Only in an acidic environment (pH 4 - 5) are these bacteria able to aggregate and adhere to the enamel as harmful plaque. No plaque – no tooth decay.
The presence of xylitol prevents the bacteria from metabolizing sugar and certain other carbohydrates to produce lactic acid, which is detrimental to the teeth. With regular use, the oral flora undergoes a change: Xylitol benefits a different Streptococcus population with a significantly lower cariogenic potential.
Xylitol doesn't kill bacteria – it just prevents them from causing damage.
In Germany, only about one percent of adults are cavity-free.Dental cavities, or caries, occur when the teeth are attacked by acids produced by bacteria. The bacteria, a particular type of Streptococcus, produce the acid when metabolizing carbohydrates, for example sugar or starches. The peak is reached as soon as 5 minutes after eating. The bacteria require an acidic environment (pH 4 - 5.5) in order to stick to the teeth. Only then can they achieve their full potential for damage.
Periodontitis is a type of gum disease that occurs when bacteria build up to form a layer of plaque on the roots of the teeth. They secrete substances that lead to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). In advanced stages, periodontitis leads to the destruction of gums and bone tissue.
Like all preventable diseases, the best way to avoid cavities and periodontitis is a good prophylaxis. In addition to brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, nutrition also plays an essential role: If you eat a balanced diet without excess sugar, you don’t have to worry much about cavities – especially if you use xylitol regularly.
To prevent cavities, use xylitol several times a day.
Take half a teaspoon of xylitol directly after every meal and let it dissolve in your mouth (don’t chew it). This will promote the flow of saliva, which raises the pH value in your mouth (that’s a good thing!). Swish the solution around – one minute is usually enough. This doesn’t kill the bacteria that cause cavities because xylitol is not an antibiotic. But the bacteria living in your mouth that normally convert sugar into harmful lactic acid are prevented from doing their “work” in the presence of xylitol.
The higher pH value also prevents these bacteria from clumping and sticking to the teeth. They are only able to do this when the pH value is under 5.5. With regular use, the bacteria can adapt to xylitol and begin to metabolize it. However, this does not produce any substances that damage the teeth.
The most noticeable effect of rinsing with xylitol is the smoother surfaces of your teeth caused by the remineralization via the calcium phosphate in your saliva. This smoothness increases with every rinse, making it more and more difficult for the bacteria to adhere to the teeth.
Numerous studies suggest that rinsing with xylitol regularly (or using xylitol chewing gum/lozenges) is the most effective cavity prevention known. It should therefore be an integral part of your dental hygiene regimen. If you have gum disease, you will need to take additional measures (local antibiotic treatment). Xylitol enhances your normal dental care, but doesn't replace it!