There has been some controversy over xylitol, a sugar substitute. Although it is considered healthier than sucrose (table sugar), it has been reported to cause bloating and other digestive upsets as a side effect. On the other hand, some could significantly benefit from xylitol, and studies have shown that it can positively impact our dental health.
How does the oral microbiome work?
Human health depends on the oral microbiome, which is an ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms living in our mouths. It creates a balance between our bodies and the world, keeping us healthy. It is continuously studied with a promising future, showing more and more effects associated with oral and systemic disease.
Without strong teeth, our food will not be chewed adequately to be digested and utilized by our bodies. If our oral microbiome is unbalanced, it can result in conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease.
When overgrown, an imbalance of bacteria in the mouth can cause conditions such as ear infections.
Studies have shown that xylitol aids oral hygiene and balances the oral microbiome, helping to prevent ear infections caused by unbalanced amounts of bacteria in the mouth.
Xylitol: what is it?
The polyalcohol xylitol is often extracted from corn and birchwood and is often found in many fruits and vegetables. It is sweet but contains far fewer calories than sugar and has nearly the opposite effect when it interacts with our dental health. In addition to not impacting blood sugar levels as sugar does, it is considered a low-digestible carbohydrate (meaning it takes a long time to digest).
As a side note: it is not something you want your dog to consume (if you brush your dog’s teeth). When humans consume or chew xylitol gum, it does not stimulate insulin release. However, xylitol releases a dangerous amount of insulin when consumed by dogs. Having even a small amount could kill your dog’s blood sugar, which is severely lowered.
In large amounts, xylitol’s laxative properties make it fairly effective at loosening stool and relieving bloating for humans.
Despite an increase in bloating (since it’s a FODMAP), we could also see an increase in collagen synthesis, which helps bolster bone density and skin strength.
Despite its skin health benefits, it kills bacteria and does not breakdown like sugar. The substance travels deep into our bodies before it can be fully metabolized. It also has a number of implications for the bacteria in our bodies.
From a one-time consumption, a person has been exposed to Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
It has been found that more Gram-positive bacteria are detected after xylitol consumption than Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria are more dangerous and are more difficult to kill than Gram-positive bacteria.
Gram-negative bacteria are the main culprits behind sepsis.
If your candida is overgrown, xylitol can also keep you healthy. Excess candida can cause a variety of problems (such as a fungal invasion of your bones, heart, brain, and blood). By killing the excess yeast, xylitol can keep it from hurting you. This is why xylitol is commonly used in anti-candida recipes. Xylitol also inhibits bacteria from developing in biofilms in the oral cavity, which helps fight gum disease.
S. mutans (streptococcus mutans) is targeted by xylitol. This strain metabolizes xylitol into a phosphate, which becomes toxic to the bacteria. Studies have shown that chewing gum with xylitol and sorbitol did not seem to affect the good bacteria we want to keep in our gut.
The effects of xylitol on our teeth
Xylitol has mostly been studied for its dental hygiene benefits.
Since xylitol cannot be metabolized by plaque bacteria, it is an effective agent against oral bacteria and buildup. Sugars and sugar alcohols contribute to an environment in the mouth that is less alkaline, causing acidic conditions to increase and bad bacteria (plaque bacteria) to grow. Healthy teeth will be replaced with cavity-ridden ones as a result of tooth decay and demineralization.
On the other hand, xylitol does not ferment. As a result of a lack of food, it eliminates those bacteria and reduces their incidence. With a decrease in acidic conditions, it does not feed the bacteria growing in them. In addition, it stimulates salivary flow, which helps wash out harmful bacteria.
Saliva’s Benefits for the Mouth
Increasing saliva production can reduce the risk of dental caries (cavities). Saliva acts as a natural mouthwash, eliminating bacteria and other troublemakers. It also helps remineralize teeth.
In addition, saliva protects the teeth by adding a barrier filled with minerals that our bodies can use to remineralize them.
Xylitol is an excellent tool to remove plaque and strengthen teeth, especially when combined with hydroxyapatite (a remineralizing agent we use in toothpaste).
While other substances can increase saliva production, they do not offer the same reduced risk for dental cavities or effective protection against harmful bacteria in the mouth. In spite of its controversy as a sweetener for consumption, xylitol helps strengthen tooth enamel and strengthens our immune systems, so we think it’s a valuable dental hygiene tool worth using.
However, the source is important
It is common for xylitol to come from genetically modified corn, but at Wellnesse, we use only the cleanest, natural ingredients, and the xylitol in our Whitening Toothpaste comes from birch wood. Using it together with other ingredients (like hydroxyapatite and green tea), it eliminates harmful bacteria, increases saliva production, and strengthens our teeth synergistically.
By keeping our microbiome balanced and healthy, xylitol and other ingredients in toothpaste have a direct impact on our oral health.