All About Xylitol

December 5, 2022, Kyle Isaacs

Image of father and young son brushing their teeth togetherHave you ever heard of xylitol, or better yet, have you ever tried it? Maybe you did when chewing some gum, but you might not have known it. Whether you have it or not, I highly recommend it as there are so many benefits, and it tastes great. Xylitol is not another artificial sweetener. It is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, the bark of birch trees, and a plant fiber called xylan. It is added to many products like gum, mints, some candies, mouthwashes, toothpastes, dry mouth gels, dry mouth sprays, nasal sprays, and other products too. I prefer it to Stevia, which in my opinion, has an aftertaste. Also, great news for people with diabetes as it is safe for them to use.

So how does it work, and why is it so great? Let’s take a look and see. When we suck on a mint or chew a piece of gum with xylitol, the bacteria (germs) in our mouths cannot feed on it as they do with regular sugar, so some bacteria die. This is helpful because fewer bad bacteria mean fewer cavities and gum disease. Also impressive is that it can help prevent ear infections in kids. Using xylitol daily helps decrease the pH or the acidity of the mouth. This means less acid and fewer bacteria. A study done in Finland with 195 parents chewing xylitol gum showed a decrease in tooth decay by 70% compared to parents not chewing the gum. Mom and baby brush their teeth together in the bathroomThe parents in the study started when the children were babies, and ONLY the parents chewed the xylitol gum, and they did this for two years. The researchers looked at the kids when they were five and discovered that the kids of the parents who chewed the xylitol gum had 70% fewer cavities. And they only chewed it for two years, then did not use it in the next three years!  It had lasting effects on the bacteria! Also notable is that none of the kids chewed the gum or had other xylitol products. I bet the prevention of cavities would be even bigger if the kids also had their mouths wiped with xylitol.

Remember I mentioned how xylitol is safe for people with diabetes? Well, that is because it has a low glycemic index, a GI of 7, and regular sugar has a GI of 65. The lower the GI number, the less likely it will affect blood sugar which is great for people with diabetes. Foods with a low GI can also help improve other health issues, like obesity and gestational diabetes, just to name a few. Xylitol has fewer calories than regular sugar, and you can bake with it too. A downside is that it is more expensive than regular sugar. Even though it is safe for people with diabetes, I always recommend discussing it with your healthcare provider before using it if you or your child has diabetes. I know how intricate the balance of nutrition is for people with diabetes.

Some caution should be exercised when first using xylitol as it may act as a diuretic, and some people may have bloating and diarrhea. I always recommend starting with a small amount and seeing how you do with it. Then you can add more as your body adjusts. As you will see below, there are specific recommendations for how much is safe to use.

Here are some important pieces of information to keep on hand:

  • Xylitol is harmful to dogs – do not give it or leave it out where your dog can get it – There is no known toxicity for cats, but best to be careful with all household pets.
  • Recommended dose is 3-5 times throughout the day for a total of 6-10 grams per day – because there are always new products, read the label to see how much xylitol is in each serving.
  • Best used after meals to help with the acids we have after eating.
  • Generally, mints have 0.5- 1.1 grams each, depending on the brand– suck 1-2 mints at a time until gone (do not chew). Gum ranges from 0.7-1.5 grams per piece
  • Granulated xylitol is 4 grams per teaspoon, no more than 2 ½ teaspoons a day (10 grams), and no other xylitol.
  • Regular sugar is 4 calories per gram, and xylitol is 2.4 calories per gram

Benefits of XylitolCurly haired girl in her pajamas brushes her teeth

  • Helps prevent tooth decay
  • Makes your mouth less acidic = less bacteria
  • Increases Saliva = helps with dry mouth
  • Helps prevent ear infections in children
  • Helps decrease sinus infections and helps with allergies with the nasal sprays
  • Shown to help decrease candida (yeast) infections.
  • Low calorie
  • Low glycemic index (7) safe for people with diabetes to use
  • Helps strengthen teeth
  • Decreases plaque

Some Products That Are Good to Use

  •  Epic gum, mints, toothpaste, granulated
  • Impact – gum
  • Xyloburst – mints and gum, don’t get the lollipops as they contain acid
  • Xylichew – gum and mints
  • PUR – gum and mints
  • Xyla – granulated 4 grams per teaspoon
  • Zellies – gum and mints
  • Xlear – Spry products – gum, mints, granulated, sprays, toothpaste, nasal, candies, gels
  • Nutra BioGenesis – Fruit gum
  • Spiffies – wipes for babies

Some of these are available locally at Market of Choice, Natural Grocers, First Alternative Coop, and possibly at Walmart. Most are available online at Amazon, their company website, and

Read more about Xylitol here.