Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in small amounts of fruits and vegetables. It has been used as a sweetener aimed to improve oral health1. Xylitol as well as other sugar alcohols are not readily metabolized by oral bacteria, and thus are considered non-cariogenic sugar substitutes 2.
Xylitol is available in many forms (eg, gums, mints, chewable tablets, lozenges, toothpastes, mouthwashes, cough mixtures, and oral wipes). The chewing process enhances the caries inhibitory effect.
The main concern with xylitol is in order to see the dental benefits, one must consume 3-8 gram each day and spread out that amount 5 times throughout the day. At this constant level abdominal distress and diarrhea have been reported 3.
Overall the results are inconclusive for caries reduction in short term use as well as long-term use. To consume 3-8 grams of Xylitol is unrealistic in a clinical practice 4,5.
At Growing Smiles in Floral Vale, we agree with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that Xylitol is a non-cariogenic replacement for sugar. But the lack of consistent evidence that Xylitol reduces the cavity causing bacteria in children in addition to the abdominal side effects is why we do not recommend the use of Xylitol as part of a daily oral health regimen.
Xylitol and Dogs:
Xylitol is considered safe for human consumption, it is extremely toxic to dogs. Only 0.10 g/kg of xylitol can cause issues. Thus a dog weighing about 7 pounds (3kg) can get sick from eating less than 1 piece of xylitol chewing gum.
1. Mäkinen KK. Biochemical principles of the use of xylitol in medicine and nutrition with special consideration of dental aspects. Experientia Suppl 1978;30:1-160.
2. Scheinin A, Mäkinen KK, Ylitalo K. Turku sugar studies. V. Final report on the effect of sucrose, fructose and xylitol diets on caries incidence in man. Acta Odontol Scand 1976;34(4):179-216
3.Ly KA, Milgrom P, Rothen M. Xylitol, sweeteners, and dental caries. Pediatr Dent 2006;28(2):154-63. Discussion 192-8.
4. Oscarson P, Lif Holgerson P, Sjöström I, Twetman S, Stecksén-Blicks C. Influence of a low xylitol-dose on mutans streptococci colonisation and caries development in preschool children. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent 2006; 7(3):142-7.
Stecksén-Blicks C, Holgerson PL, Twetman S. Effect of xylitol and xylitol-fluoride lozenges on approximal caries development in high caries-risk children. Int J Paediatr Dent 2008;18(3):170-7.
Kovari H, Pienihäkkinen K, Alanen P. Use of xylitol chewing gum in daycare centers: A follow-up study in Savonlinna, Finland. Acta Odontol Scand 2003;61(6):367-70.
5: Hujoel PP, Mäkinen KK, Bennett CA, et al. The optimum time to initiate habitual xylitol gum-chewing for obtaining long-term caries prevention. J Dent Res 1999; 78(3):797-803.