Xylitol and Dental Caries

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol found in some food products and used as a sugar substitute.  Studies strongly suggest that xylitol is non-cariogenic.  That is, xylitol decreases streptococcus mutans levels in plaque and saliva, thus reducing the incidence of dental caries.

Despite these findings, there is little information on the amount of xylitol needed in food products to be effective.  In addition, xylitol is not a clearly labeled ingredient on food packages.

According to the HealthPartners Dental Group and Clinics caries guideline, “xylitol can significantly reduce caries progression if used for five minutes 3-4 times a day after meals and snacks.”  The guideline also states that at least 4 grams of xylitol should be consumed daily.”

In its revised Policy on the use of Xlyitol in Caries Prevention, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry stated that they support preventive strategies that use sugar substitutes.  However, the academy recommends further research  and encourages clear labeling of products which contain xylitol.

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