Bash Bacterial Baddies
Getting rid of cavities requires much more than simply brushing.
Here, we’re going to outline the most valuable tool we’ve found for buffering against acid and combatting cavity-causing bacteria.
The true cause of cavities isn’t sugar or poor brushing, but harmful oral bacteria and the tooth-dissolving acid they produce.
In most cases, the primary culprit is a particular strain of bacteria that scientists call Streptococcus mutans. These oral health super villains feed on tiny particles of the food you eat and churn out acid that damages your teeth over time.
No matter how well or often you brush and floss, these cavity-causing bacteria stick around. It’s kind of like trying to wash your dishes with only water - there’s always going to be a little grease left behind, and in this case, the grease can reproduce like rabbits.
The acid produced by Streptococcus mutans bacteria compounds with the acid you introduce into your mouth through your meals, snacks, and sodas. That means the most dangerous time for your smile is right after you eat or drink.
So, in order to combat the true cause of cavities, it follows that you would need something that can 1) remove acid-producing oral bacteria from your mouth, and 2) buffer against acid immediately after you eat or drink.
Introducing The Hero Your Mouth Needs... Xylitol!
Ok, I’ll admit that the word “xylitol” doesn’t inspire much in the way of celebration, but once you’ve read the facts, you’ll be ready to start a xylitol-themed parade!
Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sweetener that, according to the California Dental Association, “shows the greatest promise for cavity prevention.”
And, unlike your slacker of a toothbrush, xylitol has been proven to combat the true cause of cavities - disabling harmful, cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans AND buffering against acid attacks in the moments you need it most
So how does it work?
Remember how those Streptococcus mutans bacteria feed on particles of the food you eat? Well, when you eat xylitol, it looks so tasty to these bacterial baddies that they’ll choose to gobble it up first over any other options. The trick is that they can’t digest it, leaving their bellies full of what may as well be a pile of rocks. Eventually they starve to death and disappear from your mouth.
Scientific studies show that with regular exposure to xylitol, the population of Streptococcus mutans in your mouth decreases significantly. And since this particular strain of bacteria are the primary culprits for plaque production, acid exposure, and causing cavities, it’s clear one of the best things you can do for your smile is to start using xylitol.
Xylitol Boosts Your Body’s Natural Defenses Against Acid
After cavity-causing bacteria, the next largest source of oral acid comes from what you eat and drink. What’s incredible is that xylitol can help deal with these sources of acid as well!
Your body has a natural defense against tooth-eroding acid - saliva. After you’ve exposed your teeth to something acidic (such as tomatoes, soda, or coffee), your mouth gets to work neutralizing that acid with saliva.
The problem is, that neutralizing process can take as long as 30 minutes, and it gets reset with each sip or bite. During that window, your teeth are vulnerable to acid erosion - something your toothbrush can’t solve. In fact, brushing your teeth under acidic conditions can actually do more harm than good. That’s because scrubbing corrosive acid into the nooks and crannies of your teeth is going to make your cavity problem worse rather than better.
Xylitol’s sweet flavor helps to get your saliva pumping faster, reducing the damage your teeth take from acid. Chewing some xylitol-sweetened gum immediately after meals, snacks, and sodas has an amazing impact in reducing acid, preventing cavities, and ultimately, reducing that size of your dental bills.
So…. Why Hasn’t My Dentist Told Me About Xylitol?
You’re probably wondering why your dentist hasn’t mentioned this miracle solution before.
The simple answer is that it’s still relatively new to the US market. While initial research on xylitol’s cavity-crushing benefits can be found as early as the 1970’s, it’s really only been within the last decade or so that products with enough xylitol to make a difference have been widely available. That means that unless your dentist or hygienist is fresh out of school (and they went to a school that spent time teaching about xylitol), there’s a good chance they’ve never really learned about what it can do.
How You Use Xylitol Matters
As with anything you use to improve your health, frequency and dose are incredibly important.
How much xylitol you consume is critical - Oral health scientists (including the California Dental Association) recommend that you get at least 6 grams of xylitol per day in order to get the best results. One of the best ways to supercharge your oral health is to switch to a xylitol toothpaste, which will give you all the important benefits of brushing along with xylitol to displace cavity-causing bacteria.
However, even xylitol toothpaste isn’t going to give you protection in the moments you need it most. For that, you’ll need a xylitol-sweetened gum or mint to buffer against acid after meals, snacks, and sodas.
The most vulnerable time for your teeth is immediately after you eat. Meals, snacks, and sodas all introduce tooth-dissolving acid, and so the best time to act is as soon as you finish one of them. Xylitol conveniently comes in gum and mints that are perfect for buffering against acid when you need it most.
Finding a gum or mint with enough xylitol to actually make a difference can be tough, especially since most of the big corporate brands (even those that say xylitol on packaging) only use small sprinkles of the cavity-crushing sweetener.
We’re here to help. Keep reading to learn all about how to find the right xylitol gum for your smile.