Xylitol toothpaste is a type of tooth cleaner containing an artificial sweetener derived from certain plants and fruits such as birch trees and plums. This xylitol sweetener has been shown to function as a natural antibiotic, neutralizing cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Regular use of xylitol toothpaste can also reduce plaque build-up on the teeth and prevent loss of protective enamel. The use of sugar substitutes such as xylitol in toothpaste is a safe alternative for users with diabetes or hypoglycemia who may have had past problems brushing with sugar-based toothpaste ingredients.
Tooth decay and cavities often result not only from bacteria but also from acidic pH levels in the mouth. In lab tests, the sugar substitute in xylitol toothpaste has been measured as more helpful than other ingredients in bringing this pH level back to a neutral balance. Xylitol toothpaste does not have any noticeable effect on blood sugar levels due to its low glycemic index number of seven. Adding balanced amounts of xylitol sweetener and aloe vera to some toothpastes has made them good choices for users with tooth and gum sensitivity.
When compared with standard sugars, xylitol has significantly lower percentages of both calories and carbohydrates. Xylitol toothpaste is approved as a safe alternative to fluoride-enriched toothpaste, particularly for young children. This type of toothpaste is sometimes presented as a more organic option in the face of health concerns over chemicals such as abrasive sulfate-based cleaning agents found in some other toothpastes.
One of the key benefits of xylitol in toothpaste is that it chemically breaks down coatings on the teeth known as biofilms. Biofilms typically result from ingesting food and drinks with significantly high levels of table sugar, and they provide a haven for bacteria to stick to the surfaces of teeth and multiply. Once xylitol toothpaste breaks apart the structure of biofilms, the bacteria have nothing to keep them in place and they are easily rinsed away. In addition to reducing cavities, this effect of xylitol can reduce the likelihood of dental diseases such as gingivitis.
A noted concern over toothpaste containing xylitol is that this artificial sweetener is very toxic to pets, namely dogs and cats that like to sample human food and household products. Ingesting xylitol can cause serious health problems in animals, including liver failure. Xylitol toothpaste users with pets should take care to keep it locked up and out of reach of their curious animals.