Xylitol has become a replacement for sugar because it causes less damage to teeth and supposedly prevents tooth decay. But the part about aiding against tooth decay may not, in fact, be true.
New research from the Cochrane Library states that there isn’t much evidence that suggests xylitol can successfully fight tooth decay.
The researchers analyzed 5,903 people who participated in 10 studies. Each study looked at different factors.
The research team determined that of the more than 4,200 children in two Costa Rican studies, the levels of tooth decay were 13 percent lower for children who used fluoride toothpaste with xylitol compared to children who use fluoride-only toothpaste. Other products containing xylitol did not provide and tangible benefit.
It’s conceivable, however, that the benefits the children in Costa Rica received from the fluoride toothpaste with xylitol were limited to that group only because the sample size was too small to represent all types of people, according to the researchers.
Some of the other studies that focused on xylitol did not provide enough information about the side effects of xylitol. The documented side effects may include bloating, diarrhea or laxative results, which have been known to impact these types mints, sweets and sugar-free gum.