What is xylitol?

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Olivia Raines
  • 1st Special Operations Dental Squadron
In the dental healthcare arena, there are many products we suggest our patients use.

For example, you brush to remove the plaque on your teeth. You use dental floss to eliminate plaque and debris from between your teeth that brushing misses. You incorporate a fluoride rinse into your daily routine to help keep the enamel of your teeth strong.

Then, there is xylitol... wait, what the heck is that?

Xylitol is an all-natural sweetener that has an "anti-caries" effect on enamel.

Basically, in combination with proper brushing, flossing and fluoride, xylitol can help prevent dental cavities.

Many commercial products use xylitol to help protect teeth between brushing and flossing. Some of the most common products you can find it in is chewing gum, mints and mouth rinses.

Xylitol inhibits the bacteria that cause tooth decay, preventing plaque from adhering to the tooth surface; as well as help balance the pH of the mouth.

Why is pH important for dental health? A healthy oral environment will have a low pH value; acids eat away at tooth enamel, and daily use of products containing xylitol can help minimize those acids.

Remember, this is just one way to help your teeth; there are numerous products on the market that can help you prevent cavities and maintain those pearly whites.