The National Library of Medicine recently published an abstract on how xylitol affects Streptococcus mutans.

The study was done by researchers from Finland working for Danisco Labs, a branch of DuPont Nutrition and Health, who also make and profit from xylitol, so there is some obvious financial interest. You can read the abstract here if you want. This study is important because these bacteria, we’ll call them SM for short, are the major causes of tooth decay.

These bacteria first get into our mouths from our parents, mostly our mothers, who taste our food–when we are young and just getting teeth–so that it doesn’t burn us. It is easy for these bacteria to hold on to our teeth and they eat the same foods we eat so they can multiply. When they multiply enough they start building homes that protect them from outside threats. On our teeth we call this plaque; it’s what the dentist scrapes of when he cleans our teeth. Technically it’s known as biofilm.

In this article, we’ll refer to Streptococcus mutans as the “bacteria” for easier understanding.

What we’re discussing is how the sugar alternative, xylitol, affects this bacterial layer that tends to cover our teeth. The US National Library of Medicine published an article discussing how “dental biofilms are useful in finding ways to support a healthy microbial balance in the oral cavity.”  They were able to study the effects on four different strains of bacteria using a dental simulator.

They used a simulator that provided a continuous-flow of artificial saliva (AS) in an oral cavity environment. The simulator also maintained a constant temperature during testing.  They maintained an unaltered sample of AS, then tested a sample with 1% sucrose (sugar), and then 2% xylitol.

In the simulated environment, the results showed that adding 1% sucrose to the AS increased the colonization of bacteria. However, adding 2% of xylitol to the sample decreased the bacterial colonization.  Increasing the xylitol to anywhere between 2-5% showed a reduction of bacteria, even in the presence of sucrose.

The Studies Conclusion:

In conclusion, sucrose promoted a biofilm but the xylitol reduced the bacterial colonization and generation. The results help support the notion that xylitol affects the ability of certain bacteria from adhering to Hydroxyapatite surfaces.  This is an essential ingredient of normal bones and teeth. Consequently, other clinical studies have also shown that xylitol consumption decreases caries incidences and reduces the amount of plaque.

The recommended dose of xylitol per day is 5 grams to reap these oral health benefits. You can easily accomplish this by starting and ending your day with a xylitol toothpaste and mouthwash.  You can also chew xylitol-based gum throughout the day. Furthermore, xylitol comes in all forms, not just in dental care. You can get your daily doses of xylitol a sweeter way in candy form or a powdered sweetener for cooking and baking. Xylitol is safe for adults and children and is a natural, healthy alternative to sucrose.

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Effects of Xylitol on Streptococcus mutans
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