If you have, or are at risk for, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) then you probably know about the traditional treatments that your dentist has to offer. Thanks to advances in technology, there are several options for treatment such as periodontal surgery, laser therapy and other non-surgical methods. However, according to the American Academy of Periodontists, non-surgical methods don't work for every situation. Also, not everyone is comfortable with these procedures due to possible pain, side effects and medicines that may be used in the process. Fortunately, nature has provided a solution in the form of a naturally occurring substance called xylitol.
Xylitol is a natural sugar found in the fibrous part of many plants including plums, strawberries, raspberries, and birch trees. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that xylitol can reduce unhealthy oral bacteria that are responsible for causing cavities and gum disease. Due to xylitol’s unique structure, it doesn't break down the way that regular sugar does and it helps keep a neutral pH balance in your mouth. Regular consumption of xylitol will prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums, thus decreasing your chance of developing, or worsening, gum disease.
Here are some additional benefits that xylitol provides for your oral health:
- Helps to reduce plaque formation
- Helps to reduce the development of cavities and aids in repairing them
- Increases saliva which helps to repair damaged enamel
Preventing Gum Disease
To maintain optimum oral health, a minimum of six grams is necessary to notice the benefits, but more than ten to 12 grams a day is no more effective than 20 grams. To prevent gum disease, make sure that you consume an appropriate amount of xylitol throughout the day in five to six doses, not all at once. Drinking water, with one to two teaspoons of granulated xylitol stirred in, is an effective way to get the recommended amount. Do this in addition to your usual brushing and flossing routine.
Eliminating Gum Disease
Xylitol is anti-bacterial and will help to make the harmful bacteria disappear and over time the pockets that you've developed in your gum line will heal and recede back to their normal condition. Since you already have a higher level of bacteria in your mouth, you'll want to be sure to get in at least ten grams of xylitol each and every day in addition to maintaining a good brushing and mouth rinsing routine. Use a toothpaste with xylitol, a mouthwash that is highly effective at killing bacteria, and floss daily. As your final step, you should drink some water with a few grams of xylitol, chew a piece of gum or eat a candy with xylitol. Make sure that you get your xylitol in small, frequent doses throughout the day in order to gain the most benefit.
Tips and Warnings
- To get enough xylitol, try eating xylitol candies and chewing gum made with 100 percent xylitol or drinking xylitol mixed with water.
- Consuming too much xylitol in a given day, usually more than 20 to 30 grams, often causes diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
- While it's perfectly safe for human consumption, xylitol is lethal to dogs. Be sure to keep your xylitol in a cupboard or high shelf so that your canine friends can't get to it.