Trailridge Family Dental November 2018

The Sugary Substance

I f you’ve ever seen the 1971 classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” then you are familiar with the fictional sugar-filled labyrinth from which some of the most scrumdiddlyumptious sweets are delivered to the world’s candy stores. To children, the chocolate river, Everlasting Gobstoppers, and Fizzy Lifting Drinks are the mouthwatering epitome of fun, but adults might look at all that sugar and run away screaming. According to the American Diabetes Association, added sugar may be the unhealthiest aspect of the modern diet. Fortunately, the natural sweetener xylitol provides a healthier alternative. WHAT IS XYLITOL? Xylitol is a white, crystallized sugar alcohol. It looks and tastes like sugar, but it has fewer calories and only has a negligible effect on blood sugar levels. You can find small amounts of it in many fruits and vegetables, which is why many define it as “natural.” You can also find xylitol in birch trees, but more often than not, scientists make it in a lab using the plant fiber xylan. Xylitol is considered a healthier choice than fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup, which spikes blood sugar and insulin levels. This spike can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, risk of heart disease and cancer, and several other serious health-related issues. Dentists Actually Recommend Xylitol Starves the Bad Bacteria in Your Mouth

WHY DO DENTISTS RECOMMEND IT? Many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum — no, not the kind that turned Violet into a giant blueberry. Studies indicate that xylitol can prevent tooth decay. One of the leading risk factors for tooth decay is a type of oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. Having traces of this bacteria on your teeth is normal, but when there is an abundance, your immune system starts attacking it. These attacks often lead to inflammatory gum diseases that can cause gingivitis. To

stay alive, these bacteria feed on sugar from the food you eat, but oddly, they can’t process xylitol. If you replace your sugar intake with xylitol, the bacteria will still eat it, but their energy pathways will become clogged and they will starve. It is not often that a dentist recommends that their patients chew on sweets, but consuming this sugar can do wonders for your teeth and gums.



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