Xylitol for Seniors: Keeping Teeth Young and Ageless

iStock_000019825373LargeXylitol isn’t just for young people! Many seniors accept dental problems, thinking they simply happen as teeth age.

Xylitol helps to keep teeth young and ageless – by preventing damage caused by plaque, mouth acidity or dry mouth. Xylitol can help protect the oral health of denture wearers– by protecting the mouth and lips from infections like thrush, oral sores or angular cheilitis.

Thousands of studies on xylitol confirm wide-ranging general health benefits for patients with diabetes, hormone imbalance, osteoporosis, cavities, gum disease, ear infections, sinus infections or allergies. Xylitol will help seniors protect themselves from the spread of dental infection that happen when they move from independent living into group or community environments.

Beware the confusion between xylitol and other sweeteners with similar sounding names! Sorbitol is never recommended for oral health yet it is often mixed into products that claim to be made with xylitol. Sorbitol causes gastric discomfort in very small amounts. Studies show that even young children tolerate xylitol well and that introducing it slowly is best –starting with a few grams per day – divided into half -gram or one-gram amounts – ideally enjoyed after meals.

Xylitol gum and mints are familiar to many, but it is also possible to use xylitol effectively in its granular, crystalline form. A few crystals can be eaten directly from a spoon or sprinkled onto fruits as an ending to a meal. Crystals may be dissolved in water to sip during the day or night to help keep gums healthy, and this may be an ideal way for a denture wearer to enjoy some xylitol. Dissolving xylitol in water is not as effective as eating mints or gum if you want a method to strengthen your teeth or protect you from the build up of plaque or calculus .

3 thoughts on “Xylitol for Seniors: Keeping Teeth Young and Ageless

  1. Hi Dr. Ellie,

    How come dissolving xylitol in water wouldn’t be as effective as chewing mints or gum for strengthening teeth? I usually try to make a xylitol rinse with water and leave it in the kitchen so that when I’m done eating or snacking I can quickly swish my mouth with the rinse and spit it out.

    Thanks!

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    1. Xylitol is hygroscopic. This means it pulls water to itself. This is why when you eat a mint, it pulls saliva from the roof of your mouth to douse your teeth with mineral rich saliva. Alkaline saliva mineralizes teeth better than anything else. When you dissolve xylitol in water you loose this benefit.
      You still will get some plaque reduction and all the systemic benefits from the xylitol, but you loose the strengthening effect that comes from salivary flow generated by xylitol.

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  2. Very good information I’m from Barbados and have a daughter 10yrs of age experienceing cavity will try your system

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