What is xylitol?

  • Published
  • 59th Dental Training Squadron

If you have visited a dental clinic in the last five years, you have probably heard the dentist, hygienist, or technician mention xylitol (pronounced zy-li-tawl). But what is it? 


Xylitol is a sugar. Better than that, it is a sugar that is actually good for you! Wait, what?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in things like corn cobs, woody fibrous plants, fruits and vegetables, and is even produced in the human body.

Pure xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes just like sugar.

Among its many health benefits, it is a great alternative for people with diabetes; it helps people who suffer from nasal congestion lubricate their sinuses; and it has fewer calories than regular sugar. Xylitol also has many dental benefits, which is why your dental professionals are talking about it.

 “Studies using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with arrest and even some reversal of existing dental caries,” according to http://www.xylitol.org.   


Low decay rates persist even years after the studies are complete. Because the bacteria in the mouth that causes cavities cannot break down xylitol, their growth is said to be reduced by 90 percent.  Xylitol also works by increasing the salivary flow that actually aides in the repair of a damaged tooth.  


The question then becomes, where can xylitol be found? It is actually pretty easy.


Xylitol can be found in products like sweeteners, teething gel for babies, toothpaste, mouth sprays, mouth rinses, mints, and even chewing gum.

The next time you are walking down the hygiene aisle of your grocery store or standing in the checkout line, you can feel comfortable knowing that there are many products available to you that can help prevent dental caries in a pretty sweet way.

For more information about xylitol and its benefits, visit http://xylitol.org/.