Can a sweetener actually prevent cavities?
We know what you’re thinking: A sweetener? That prevents cavities? There’s no way! And we’d say bravo, Super Parent, for raising questions. However. . .
There is a sweetener that does just that! And this little guy’s name is Xylitol.
The Not-So-Sweet Truth
Now, before we dive into what Xylitol is, let’s first clarify why this all sounds so crazy. Because it really does! You see, sweeteners like sugar and high fructose corn syrup have given the term “sweetener” a bad name. Sugar, which goes by many names, can throw us on the fast-track to disease and harm our teeth.
But why is that? What is it about sugar that makes ‘em a bad guy? And more importantly, how is Xylitol different?
The Science Behind Sugar
We won’t get super science-ey here, but we do wanna understand what’s going on behind the scenes — specifically, what sugar is doing to our teeth.
Within an hour of eating sugar (or drinking):
- Sugar and bacteria in the mouth mix to form an acid
- Blood sugar spikes
- Insulin is released to “soak up” all that sugar
- Excess sugar gets sent to the liver & stored as fat
- Blood sugar drops causing the infamous “sugar crash”
All that sounds like a lot, huh?! Just know that our body is working overtime every time we eat sugar. And it can lead to really baaaaaddddd diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Now when it comes to your teeth, sugar can lead to cavities, enamel erosion, and even tooth loss! And part of the reason is because, like our tummies, our mouths have good and bad bacteria. And when the bad bacteria take over, they can wreak havoc on our dental health.
This is because of a little secret between bad bacteria and sugar. . . you see,
Bad bacteria LOVE sugar!
When we eat sugar, it gets stuck in our teeth. The bad bacteria will then mix with this sugar and form an acid that causes all those problems.
So knowing all that, it’s time to introduce Xylitol.
Xylitol is a sweetener, yes. However, here’s what makes Xylitol veerrrrry different than sugar:
- Xylitol has an anti-plaque benefit on teeth surface
- Decreases the growth levels of bacteria that causes cavities
- Binds with calcium that can lead to remineralization of teeth enamel
Another important thing to note about Xylitol: It’s not converted in the mouth to those pesky acids that lead to tooth decay. That’s right — bacteria can’t metabolize it! (Remember, this was why bad bacteria love sugar and mix with it to form acids).
But it’s benefits don’t stop with dental care. Xylitol has also been shown to:
- Prevent osteoporosis
- Treat respiratory tract & middle ear diseases
- Can reduce constipation, diabetes, and obesity
In case you’re wondering what exactly is Xylitol and where it comes from: Xylitol is a natural sweetener that can be found in most plant material, including fruits and veggies. It’s used in toothpastes, chewing gum, and other food sources.
Xylitol vs. Sugar
Xylitol and sugar are both sweeteners. But sugar causes cavities whereas Xylitol prevents them! Xylitol is also sweeter than sugar, which means we can use waaaaaayyyyy less of it and still get that yummy taste.
It’s a well-known fact that kids eat too much sugar. In fact, not only are toddlers eating too much sugar (more than the recommendation for adults), but 60% of children begin eating sugar before their first birthday!
And since added sugar is the leading cause of cavities in kids, we wanna keep an eye out for it in our kid’s food. But sometimes, sugar lurks in places we wouldn’t imagine. . . even our “healthy food.”
Gummy Vitamins: More Harm Than Good?
Did you know that a vitamin gummy has the same amount of sugar (per gram) as an Oreo?
We’re not kidding! It makes us wonder, with that much sugar, what’s so healthy about gummies? Not only that, they also include gelatin which, over time, can severely damage your child's teeth.
Add the stickiness factor, little teeth and questionable tooth-brushing skills, and you can see why some dentists urge parents to steer clear of gummies!
So, let’s keep our teeth brushed and watch out for added sugar hiding in our toddler’s vitamins.
Sugar-Free, Dentist-Recommended Vitamins for Kids
If you are looking for a children's vitamin that your kids will love, contain no sugar, and won't stick to your child's teeth, consider Renzo's Vitamins.
Renzo’s Melty Tabs are made with the tooth-friendly Xylitol to help prevent those cavities. And they’re so yummy, even the pickiest of eaters will love their Melty Tabs, or your money back!:)