Xylitol in toothpaste may prevent tooth decay, but there is no evidence that xylitol in sweets and chewing gum has an effect

Xylitol

Tooth decay is a common disease affecting up to 90% of children and most adults worldwide. It impacts on quality of life and can be the reason for thousands of children needing dental treatment under general anaesthetic in hospital. However, it can easily be prevented and treated by good oral health habits such as brushing teeth regularly with toothpaste that contains fluoride and cutting down on sugary food and drinks. If left undisturbed, the unhelpful bacteria in the mouth – which cause decay – multiply and stick to the surfaces of teeth producing a sticky film. Then, when sugar is eaten or drank, the bad bacteria in the film are able to make acid resulting in tooth decay. Xylitol is a natural sweetener, which is equally as sweet as normal sugar (sucrose). As well as providing an alternative to sugar, it has other properties that are thought to help prevent tooth decay, such as increasing the production of saliva and reducing the growth of bad bacteria in the mouth so that less acid is produced. In humans, xylitol is known to cause possible side effects such as bloating, wind and diarrhoea. Continue reading