Sugar has had a bad wrap over the last several years and for good reason, sugar has no essential nutrients, is bad for your health AND destroys your teeth. If that’s not enough sugar can cause liver disease, insulin resistance causing diabetes, cancer, hormone irregularities, heart disease and it will make you fat. Sugar is in nearly all processed foods and the worst part is it’s very addictive. So although as dentists we have a justifiable anti-sugar platform since it is one of the biggest culprits of the dental problems we see on a daily basis, there are loads of other reasons aside from oral health that you should be avoiding this substance.
Many of our patients are sugar addicted and can’t fathom a world without their sweet coffees, tasty desserts and indulgent comfort foods. We always suggest to our patients that maintaining a wholefood low-sugar diet is ideal for optimal health however there is a solution for those that need their sweet fix. Enter Xylitol.
Xylitol is a plant-based sweetener that is actually good for oral health. Unlike sugars, which stick to the teeth and breed bacteria that causes tooth decay, xylitol keeps the pH balance in a mouth neutral and prevents bacteria from sticking to the tooth, protecting it from tooth decay. So not only does xylitol give you a natural sweet taste it also protects the teeth from dental decay which is the most common infectious disease of children aged 5-7, and is completely preventable by reducing sugar in the diet.
So what is xylitol? It is a five-carbon sugar alcohol compound (does not contain sugar or alcohol), that occurs naturally in plants. Although it looks like sugar its properties are completely different. Xylitol is a natural part of the body’s metabolism and we make between 5-10 grams of it in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Because this process takes place in the gut there are no dental benefits that happen as a result of our natural production of this compound.
Xylitol can be purchased at the grocery store, in health food stores and online. We highly encourage our patients to make the switch from sugar to xylitol and those who have, have seen immense improvements of their oral and overall health. Because of the addictive nature of sugar it is not always easy to cut it out at once. Xylitol is a great substitute to ‘come off’ sugar and is a healthy addition to a whole food balanced diet.
Here at Whistler Dental we are passionate about helping our patients live their best life possible. From designing perfect smiles that improve confidence, providing oral care that maintains optimal health, and supporting healthy life changes and decisions such as the reduction of sugar and processed foods, we help our patients enhance their quality of life and are dedicated to the patients and families within our Whistler community.