How Does Xylitol Help Prevent Tooth Decay?

old message History And Uses Of Xylitol Darrell Miller 02/07/12

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Date: February 07, 2012 07:50 AM
Subject: History And Uses Of Xylitol

Xylitol is the 5-carbon sugar which is found within the birch tree sap and it's naturally found in the fibers of various vegetables and fruits. This is a sugar-alcohol sweetener commonly used as the sugar substitute.

History of xylitol

Although discovered in the 19th century during the Second World War, Xylitol has been recognized ever since the tardy 1800s. The researchers from Germany and France were the first individuals to try to produce this product approximately 100 years ago, but ended up creating syrup-like consistency mixture. This product became commercially available in the 1960s and the commercial process is still the same as it was during the 1960s.

Before 1943, the scientists' categorized this sugar with various sugary carbohydrates (polyols) and it lingered so till the beginning of the war-associated deficiency of sugar which initiated the call for an alternate sugar. This initiated further research in to the xylitols insulin-independent properties, this resulted in discovery of its other biological benefits. In 1962 this chemical was introduced in the infusion therapy demonstrating that it can be introduced to ill individuals.

The commercial production process involves extraction of Polysaccharides rich in Xylose from various agricultural by-products and hardwoods. These are hydrolyzed with various intense acidic treatments and then it is purified before hydrogenation is done. This process needs a lot of harsh chemicals and is quite expensive and inefficient.

It was until 1970 that the odontological benefit of xylitol was ascertained in Finland, Turku. The initial study of the effects of this sugar on the dental plaque began during the same year. This resulted in large scale production of xylitol, in 1974 by the Finnish sugar company. Sugar-free dental product was first launched in Finland which was a xylitol chewing-gum.

How xylitol works

This sugar can prevent cavity in various ways by actually blocking the tooth decaying process. The bacteria causing decay cannot ferment this sugar into acids as it does with other sugars including dextrose, fructose, glucose and sucrose. This results in production of less acidic by-product thus interfering with the dental plaque environment which favors decaying. This results in prevention of tooth demineralization.

The high pH condition caused by xylitol sugar is not favorable for the cariogenic bacteria which are responsible for decaying. This results in fewer bacteria in the plaques and long-term exposure has an effect on which type of bacteria will prevail within the plaque. This also inhibits the growth of specific xylitol-sensitive bacteria strain. Since they cannot breakdown this sugar, they end up not reproducing and growing in population. The lack of fermentable sugars results in creation of anti-cavity effect.

The starvation effect created by this sugar prevents accumulation of cariogenic bacteria in the plaques. Long term xylitol exposure results in change of predominant cariogenic bacteria to xylitol-resistant strains from xylitol-sensitive. This xylitol-sensitive strain of bacteria cannot colonize the plaque since they have less adhering capabilities.

The less acidic condition in the dental plaque interface created by this sugar can initiate demineralization. Demineralization occurs when the plaque interface is at a pH of 5.5 or below since fewer bacteria live in the plaques. Studies have showed that demineralized tooth samples immersed in a solution containing 20% xylitol experienced a great remineralization degree. This is noted in the deep and middle tooth layers.

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