If you have sensitive teeth, along with over 50 percent of adults 20 to 50 years old, chances are you're frequently on the lookout for ways to keep your teeth clean and alleviate your discomfort. Some toothpastes are made specifically for sensitive teeth to help lessen the pain caused by hot and cold sensations or biting down on certain foods. Toothpastes that contain a natural sweetener called xylitol have been shown to reduce plaque and help fight cavities. Opting for a toothpaste that contains both xylitol and fluoride provides an added defense against tooth sensitivity.
What Is Xylitol Toothpaste?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and veggies, says the Mayo Clinic. In foods (like chewing gum or candy), it is a better alternative for your teeth than sugar. The ingredient is added to toothpaste on its own or combined with fluoride. It serves not only as a sweetener but as an additive that helps hinder the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
Benefits of Xylitol Toothpaste
You needn't worry if your ADA-approved toothpaste doesn't contain xylitol. The American Dental Association (ADA) only approves toothpastes that do not contain sugar, so it most likely has an alternative sweetener. Though xylitol's sweet flavor is pleasing, it also has substantive benefits for sensitive teeth.
Xylitol in chewing gum supports increased mineralization and that helps strengthen enamel (or the outermost layer of your teeth). Since thin enamel is one cause of sensitive teeth, including xylitol in your oral care routine fortifies this layer, decreasing the risk of nerve exposure – and painful sensitivity – on your teeth's pulp.
When you enjoy the minty freshness of toothpaste, breath mints or gum, the xylitol responsible for the sweetness increases salivary flow, says the Calorie Control Council. The minerals that are present in saliva then work to remineralize your enamel. Brushing with a remineralizing toothpaste like Colgate Total Daily Repair toothpaste, which strengthens teeth by remineralizing weakened enamel, is also key.
Another benefit of xylitol is that while it shares the sweetening effect of sugar, xylitol isn't an energy source for a particular bacteria that is found in oral biofilm, according to a study published in the Archives of Oral Biology. Bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth go wild when they come in contact with real sugar, and the by-product of the interaction is plaque. Keeping plaque at bay is a fundamental step to keeping your sensitive teeth healthy.
Seek Your Dentist's Advice
Make sure to address your tooth sensitivity with your dentist at every visit. Xylitol toothpaste may be one addition to your regimen in fighting dentin hypersensitivity, but always seek your dentist's advice.
Over-the-counter, sugar-free products can greatly help ease tooth sensitivity, so don't delay treatment. If you're feeling increased sensitivity to temperatures, sensations or different foods, now is the right time to make an appointment with your dentist.