Xylitol is used as a sugar substitute in products such as gum, mints and candies, and can even be found as a mouthwash or dental floss. It is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol substance found in most plants and in some fruits and vegetables and is typically extracted from birch wood for use. It differs from most sugar substitutes because it is a naturally occurring substance.
The main cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth is called streptococcus mutans. When we consume sugary foods and drinks, more of this type of bacteria gets converted into acids that attack our teeth. Consumption of xylitol helps to slow down the production of Streptococcus mutans, thereby reducing acid production. Xylitol also helps to neutralize the pH of the saliva, reducing the acidity. The amount of acid-producing bacteria in our mouths can reduce as much as 90% after the use of a xylitol-containing product.
Try to consume 4-10 grams of xylitol per day. Try to use it several times a day, between meals and before bed. In the case of xylitol, frequency is more important than quantity. Even just using xylitol once a day can help reduce your risk of cavities.
Xylitol is safe and has been approved by Health Canada as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The only potential side effect may be abdominal distress/ diarrhea with overconsumption.
Xylitol is TOXIC for dogs. Any amount of xylitol is considered dangerous and even life-threatening. Xylitol causes a large release of insulin, which lowers blood sugar and leads to vomiting, confusion, seizures, coma and liver failure. If your pet consumes any product containing xylitol, bring them an emergency vet immediately.