What Is It?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found in numerous plants, fruits, and vegetables. It’s also naturally produced by the body; normal metabolism can produce up to 15 grams daily. Xylitol is a low-calorie sweetener, equal in sweetness and volume to table sugar. In granular form it can be used in a similar manner, such as sweetening cereals and hot beverages and for baking that does not require sugar for yeast to rise. It’s also available in chewing gums, mints, toothpastes, and other natural products.
Why Use It?
Research supports using xylitol to prevent cavities and tooth decay, especially in young children. Bacteria cannot utilize xylitol to grow; therefore, fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on the tooth’s surface over time, reducing plaque formation. Studies show that mothers who regularly chew xylitol gum are less likely to pass bacteria associated with cavities and ear infections to their children, and that kids given xylitol products or nasal spray are less likely to develop ear infections.