Most people know that xylitol does something to help prevent tooth decay; and most associate that benefit with xylitol sweetened gum. But when it all began, nearly 50 years ago in Finland, it wasn’t gum that helped, it was diet. A group in Turku, Finland was divided into three parts: one part got sugar in their diet; another got fructose, and another got xylitol. Their teeth were evaluated before and after two years. Those eating sugar had the expected progress in tooth decay; those eating fructose had less, but those eating xylitol had none.
But there is no profit associated with changing peoples’ diets so they looked at gum. It should work as well and it can be sold. And it does work as well – if you chew it all day. That’s a bit unfair, but the research shows its benefit is directly tied to how often you chew. Once or twice a day – not much benefit. But five times a day prevents about 80% of tooth decay. The cost of ten pieces of gum is about a dollar, and a dollar a day is cost effective when you look at the savings in dental bills. But there may be a less expensive alternative that gets back to the initial study and its benefits of no progress in decay where it is in ones’ diet.
Glaucia Jones is working on a book to be published shortly, and her web page bakesugarfree.com is filled with recipes using a combination of xylitol and erythritol sold as “Lite & Sweet” by Xlear, Inc. Erythritol, like xylitol, is a five carbon sugar alcohol that is both sweet and has dental benefits. But unlike xylitol it is absorbed better and so lacks the GI problems that plague us when we eat too much of it. And it also has no harmful effects on our dogs.
So if you want no tooth decay think about switching to no sugar in your diet. But if you have a sweet tooth look at Glaucia’s alternative.