When it comes to our bodies, in many cases, our body can only be as successful as the tools we provide to it. That’s why we always strive to provide our patients with the best possible information to ensure that they (and us!) are doing their utmost to get the maximum possible health benefits. One of the more common questions we get is about fluoride versus xylitol toothpaste and if there is a reason to go one way or the other.
At first glance, it doesn’t even seem like a question. Fluoride is one of the first substances that come to mind when you are thinking about dental health. We use fluoride toothpaste, fluoride mouthwash, and many communities even put fluoride directly into their water supply to help their population achieve better dental health. On the other hand, xylitol is known as a sweetener and seems like, at best, it would be used simply to flavor toothpaste. However, there’s actually more to xylitol in dental health than meets the eye.
Why Does Xylitol Aid in Dental Health?
To understand why we put xylitol in toothpaste, you need to understand how the bacteria in your mouth work and cause cavities. These bacteria, known as cariogenic bacteria, use the regular, fermentable sugar in your mouth as food and fuel and then produce lactic acid. The acid wears through our tooth enamel, and it is this process that causes cavities. Xylitol is not regular sugar. Instead, it is a sugar alcohol that the bacteria can not use as a food source and thus do not produce lactic acid.
It goes even further than that. The xylitol, when found in toothpaste, can actually create a layer on the teeth that makes the cariogenic bacteria unable to adhere, preventing damage before it stops.
Fluoride and xylitol work together brilliantly. Fluoride can help your body heal and repair damage that plaque has done to your teeth, and the protective layer of the xylitol will prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth, to begin with. It is this reason that xylitol is becoming such a common thing to add to toothpaste. Even better, it has been proven safe for both adults and children.
To us, it has become a no-brainer that the best thing for your health is to use a xylitol-fluoride combination toothpaste. That’s why we offer these kinds of toothpaste in our office to our patients at Balle & Associates.