What is xylitol?
The studies have proven that xylitol is an important supplement in the prevention of dental caries. Finnish scientists discovered the uses of xylitol on dentistry in the early 1970's. Further research on xylitol chewing gum and xylitol pastilles has set the trend making xylitol an integral part of dental health promotion.The benefits of xylitol are gaining increasing recognition on a worldwide scale.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener
Xylitol is a sweetener that occurs naturally. It can be found in such foods as berries, fruit, vegetables and mushrooms. It is even generated by the human body during metabolism. The Finnish name for it, ‘koivusokeri', or ‘birch sugar', derives from the fact that the original way to make xylitol industrially is from birch, by chopping up and rendering down the structural fibre of the wood, xylan.
Chemically speaking, xylitol is a 5-carbon polyol sweetener, a sugar alcohol. It differs from other sweeteners such as sorbitol, fructose and glucose because the xylitol molecule has five, instead of six, carbon atoms and the caries-causing bacteria are not able to effectively use xylitol for growth. That is one reason why xylitol helps prevent caries.
Xylitol is much sweeter than such substances as sorbitol. It has the same degree of sweetness as sucrose (i.e. ordinary sugar) but 40% less calories. Xylitol has a pleasant cooling effect in the mouth.