Friday, February 10, 2006

A Good Alternate for Your Sweet Tooth

Did You Ever Wonder About...?

Xylitol is a natural substance found in fruits (ex. raspberries). It only has 1/3 of the calories of sugar, but tastes similar. It is sold as a powder, approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a food additive, and harvested from birch wood or other natural substances. Items that utilize xylitol, such as sugar free gum or candy, can help one avoid sugar and therefore improve oral hygeine. Mutans streptococci is a bacteria that uses sugar to make energy. Lactic acid is released in this process, which can harm teeth by dissolving minerals. Xylitol does not feed these bacteria and can interfere with their functioning, although method in which this occurs is not fully understood. Jason Tanzer, a dentist and microbioligist at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Conn. suggests that the bacteria produce less lactic acid in the presence of xylitol. Other scientists believe that xylitol interferes with the bacteria's ability to adhere to teeth.

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