A: Xylitol is a product often added to mints and chewing gums to help with sweetness of the product without adding sugar. Xylitol is beneficial in a way that the bacteria in our mouths can’t feed off of it.
The bacteria in our mouths like to feed off of sugars to excrete acid which in turn helps produce cavities in our teeth. Since the bacteria is not able to feed off of Xylitol, it is beneficial and recommended to chew gum after each meal to help reduce risk of cavities when brushing is not an option for you during certain times of the day or at inconvenient locations.
Gums that contain Xylitol include, but not limited to, are Trident and Orbit. Xylitol is safe for humans, but is not safe for pets, especially dogs. It lowers their blood sugar, which is hazardous for the dog. Xylitol is naturally found in low amounts of fruits, vegetables, fibers and mushrooms. It is also safe for diabetics because it does not affect insulin levels. There are several other health benefits of Xylitol including ear and respiratory issues. Do not replace brushing and flossing with Xylitol gum. The best way to reduce risk for cavities is to brush two times daily and floss one time daily.
Information provided by Dr. Rob Swanson, DDS, Swanson Dental, 2423 Willis Ave., Perry, (515) 465-5170.