Xylitol is a tooth-friendly, non-fermentable natural sugar alcohol which is beneficial for dental health by reducing dental caries (cavities) and contributing to tooth re-mineralization. Xylitol is a natural alternative to fluoride. Xylitol can be found in many dental products including but not limited to: toothpaste, mouth rinse, gum and mints. Xylitol can also be obtained in a granular form to be used in cooking or in dental product recipes. Xylitol is advertised as being “safe for consumption by diabetics and individuals with hypoglycemia.” However, it is advised to consult with your physician before using xylitol if you have these health conditions.
Sources: Corn vs. Birch
The two most common raw sources of xylitol are corn and birch tree sap. The primary differences between these two xylitol sources lies in sustainability and price.
- Sustainability: Although birch can be regrown, it takes several years for the trees to mature and is therefore not as renewable/sustainable as corn.
- Price: Xylitol from corn is obtained through the cob itself which is otherwise “thrown away” after the kernels are harvested. Corn also grows much more quickly than birch. Both of these factors aid in lowering the production costs and final xylitol product costs of corn-based xylitol dental products.
Corn allergies/sensitivities/intolerances are quite common. Due to the complex extraction process, the finished corn-based xylitol product has no detectable protein left to provide an allergen which may cause a corn-based reaction. However, if you have a corn allergy/sensitivity/intolerance, we recommend you consult with your physician before using a corn-based xylitol dental product.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Xylitol:
- The grain product of birch xylitol tends to be finer than corn xylitol; this may affect the taste and texture, but not necessarily quality. This factor is a matter of personal preference.
- There are two grades of xylitol: Food and Pharmaceutical. The food-grade may not be as refined as pharmaceutical and therefore may contain some contaminates.
- Look for non-GMO corn-based xylitol products.