Xylitol: Promoting dental health naturally and frugally

I've learned so much about xylitol over the past 4 months! It's strange to think that not so long ago, I barely knew what xylitol was and was completely oblivious to its great dental benefits.

Thankfully, I stumbled across a blog by a dentist and spent many hours reading her archives. If you're at all interested in trying a different approach to your dental health, Dr. Ellie's blog is a great place to start. And along with all of her helpful answers and advice, she's a very kind person who gives of her time and resources to help others have healthy teeth.

My first experience with xylitol was when we got some granulated xylitol through a local co-op. At $6.20 a pound, it was not going to replace our sugar consumption, that's for sure. But the great part is that it only takes a small amount of xylitol to help teeth stay clean and healthy.

Joshua and I, along with our boys (ages 4 and 2) have been consuming xylitol for several months now, and we all love it!!

I hadn't had issues with plaque, but eating a little xylitol (along with using our WaterPik, which I very highly recommend because it gets my teeth so clean!!) makes my teeth feel squeaky clean. I'm also using Dr. Ellie's "system" and plan to continue on it for 12 months and then get a second opinion from a local dentist -- though I have been very pleased with the results thus far.

Yehoshua (4 1/2) especially had plaque build-up on his teeth, even though I brushed them twice a day. Giving him a small bite of xylitol before naps and bedtime, as well as after meals, has resulted in less plaque and fresher breath! (I now allow him to brush after lunch time, and before bed I brush and floss his teeth.)

Dr. Ellie stresses how important it is to protect our teeth while we sleep (less saliva = more tooth decay) and so I've been very diligent to make sure that the boys always brush and eat xylitol before sleeping. Dr. Ellie's blog is always an encouragement to me to keep on taking great care of our family's teeth!

Okay, okay... so I'm passionate about oral health. Let's get down to the point of this post: how to reap the benefits of xylitol frugally! :)

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol (click on that link to read more).

Granulated xylitol looks and tastes similar to sucrose (table sugar).

Xylitol is also made into mints or candies (xylitol + flavoring), or used in chewing gum.

Why should I use xylitol?

It works. (Use Google to locate studies and statistics!) Fewer dental caries means less invasive dental procedures like fillings, which are not natural and are definitely expensive!

Where can I get xylitol?

Xylitol can be purchased at health food stores, bulk food stores (be sure to ask, since sometimes they carry products that aren't on the shelf!), through co-ops, or online.

We have tried mints and gums from Zellies and from Emerald Forest. Zellies has the best service -- free shipping and the order gets here FAST. Emerald Forest is cheaper, and orders have arrived about a week after placement.

Xylitol gum is convenient for when we're away from home for a meal and can't clean our teeth as well as we could at home. Chewing gum helps clean the teeth. The mints are convenient, and taste just like normal breath mints.

But the mints and gums are expensive!

I know. Xylitol isn't as cheap as sucrose, that's for sure. :) So here is how we consume xylitol without breaking the bank:

Mints and gums: Joshua has a small container of these in his lunch box for while he is at work. (He gets 10 minutes to eat lunch, so there's no hope of doing anything more than popping in a mint or piece of gum!)

Granulated xylitol: This is what the children and I consume. Per ounce, plain granulated xylitol is far cheaper than even the cheapest mints or gums.

The recommended amount of xylitol to consume in one day (for maximum dental benefits) is 6.5-10 grams (1-2 teaspoons, I believe). We buy the xylitol in 5-pound bags, and one bag lasts a long time.

Granulated xylitol is good (I mean, who doesn't love being able to eat sugar?!) but it's not as exciting as flavored mints or candies.

But... I figured out how to flavor my own! Into a small container of xylitol, I put 2-3 drops of pure orange oil (essential oil, not extract), stirred it together, and now we have what tastes like orange slice candy! It's very yummy!!

I did the same with peppermint oil in another container!

Now, the flavored granulated xylitol isn't as convenient as the ready-made mints or candies, because we have to use a spoon to eat it. But it works for around the house... and it's so much cheaper than buying mints/candies!

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I just recently placed an order with Emerald Forest, and used a 10% off coupon code they had given me. When my order came, they had included another coupon -- but I won't be ordering again for quite some time. If anyone is interested in using the 10% off code, contact me and I'll send you the code. :) Edited to add: Coupon has been taken!

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Have you ever used xylitol? I'd love to hear about your experiences with it! Where do you purchase yours, and what is the best price you've found? What's your favorite brand of mints or gum?

Comments

and have been thrilled with the results. My teeth have gotten whiter and continue to make improvements. I'm also a big fan of Dr. Ellie's, as she has been kind enough to personally reply to my emails. I found her blog and yours at the same time with no connection between the two and had to laugh when you mentioned her. It's a small world on the internet too, I guess.:)

Oh- I absolutely love the toothbrush she sells. It's really great with perfect bristles.

I did try to cheap out and not use the Closys rinse, but noticed a difference in how clean my teeth were getting. So I am very stingy with the amount of rinse I use on all three and really try to make them stretch. Just enough to swish around.

Yeah -- Dr. Ellie is very kind and personally answers so many questions!! :)

I use just under one capful of the Closys, which seems to be just enough. How much do you use? :)

I am careful with the Act as well, but a little more generous with the Listerine. :) I also figured out that the original flavor of Listerine is cheaper and doesn't contain sorbitol/saccharin. Joshau went to the dentist's this morning and brought me back two $1 Listerine coupons -- woo hoo! :) 

About the Closys -- I read the insert with a recent bottle and it said that I could get a coupon by filling out a survey on their website. I filled it out and got 2 different $2-off coupons! The Closys is expensive, but I am committed to sticking with Dr. Ellie's system for a while, so I am buying something I wouldn't normally spend so much money on -- and the coupons helped a lot!!

Also with the coupons came a card saying that if I sent them the names of 5 friends, they would send each friend a coupon plus 2 more to me!! Any blog readers want Closys coupons????!!!! :) 

We could use a coupon for closys! It was 5.99 at Target when we bought one bottle (Sam and I split it to try it out) and then it went up nearly 2 dollars after that making us wish we had bought another bottle before. =(

I would love a coupon- can you get me one?

Anne- wife to Henry-15 years, mom to Jacob Henry- age 12 and a half

Unfortunately, I have no more coupon forms, so I cannot. :( Last time I bought Closys (16 oz. bottle) there was a free-coupon form in the box. So perhaps that would work for you? Also, after you've tried it, you can fill out their feedback form online at their website and they'll send you a coupon! :)

I looked very briefly at Dr Ellie's system (which appears to be Zellies system?) and I'm wondering, do you no longer use your homemade toothpaste?? I was just thinking today - I have GOT to try making my toothpaste....

We used up the homemade toothpaste and I haven't made more. I've gotten conflicting advice about the baking soda -- my dentist here said it isn't a problem, but Dr. Ellie doesn't recommend it at all. For right now, I'm using Dr. Ellie's system exactly, and waiting to see what happens. :)

"Zellies" is Dr. Ellie's brand of xylitol mints and gum. Her system for clean teeth actually just uses stuff from the grocery store -- Closys rinse, Crest toothpaste, Listerine, and Act. She recommends xylitol after meals and between brushings, but any brand will work. :) 

I just looked over the system...I'll have to see what my dentist says about baking soda. I always heard it was good if you ran out of toothpaste.

We're a Crest family....but we get the advanced stuff...plus whitening lol. Which it doesn't whiten my teeth! After YEARS of Pepsi drinking...I'd say over 23 yrs. then Iced tea... stopped drinking that a month ago..just water..how boring!

I have been making my own toothpaste since you posted that recipe a while back, and I use xylitol to sweeten it, and I also use xylitol mouthwash (any recipes for that?). We also chew a trident gum called xtra care which has xylitol. It does have aspartame as well, which I found weird since xylitol is so sweet, but we got a bunch for free with coupons, so I figure we will just compromise on that one. I do think it has made a difference! I always have cavities when I go to the dentist, even though I think I have had good dental hygiene all my life. I am going next week, so we will see if the xylitol routine has been paying off! Thanks for the post!

Aspartame is a cancer causing agent...please don't chew gum or drink anything w/aspartame in it.

Jules, I stay away from aspartame as well, but it is everyone's choice whether or not they choose to consume it. :) You know I support free choice on things like foods, childbirth, religion, etc... ;)

Just trying to help in case they don't know :-).

Sorry... I am trying...

TAMMY, I've made mints with them.

I put up pics and a post so U could see:-) http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/2008/09/xylitol-mints.html

They're really easy! And I would love to have Closys coupons!!!!!

-Donna-

Wow, cool!! Joshua has been telling me that we could probably make our own mints, but I kept saying it was probably impossible... LOL! Thanks for the info! :)

I thought it would be impossible too because I didn't think the xylitol would set up normally but it did.

The texture stays crispy/crunchy not rock hard. You can also break it up so the kids get just what they need. :-)

If anyone wants to get a Closys coupon, send me your name and address, and I'll put you down for one. You can also go to the Closys website and take their survey thing and get a coupon that way too! :)

Thanks for the heads up--I went to their website and filled out the survey.

Can make mints.I would have never thought.I buy the naturally better peppermint xylichew sugar free chewing gum and you eat it after meals and it helps clean your teeth. I get a bit container of it and it last a LONG time.There is 100 pieces in the container. I get it at the health food store. I am the only one using that product though.Going to keep coming back and reading on this one.

My husband and I just started the system six weeks ago, because he has horrid plaque buildup. Baking soda hadn't cleared it up. And we were about at the point of him going to a dentist. We don't use Crest toothpaste, but our fluoride-free Tom's of Maine, as the fluoride in the ACT is enough for our comfort levels :-) His teeth are definitely improving, not as sure about mine....

Mine didn't have too much trouble beforehand. They look a bit lighter overall now, but also have some small white spots that I haven't had in years. I'm wondering if that's fluoridosis, as I haven't had it since my fluoride toothpaste and fluoride dental treatment days. May be that I'm very sensitive to fluoride....

We've been sporadic with the mints. I'll have to suggest to my husband that he start using them regularly again, as he could use any plaque-fighting help he can get! He still has a long way to go!

Heather (married in Aug '00, mom to 4 children under 7, with baby #5 due in early Jan '09!)

with white spots. It may be because the flouride in the toothpaste plus the water, plus the Act Rinse. So we've gone off the rinses for now.

I have never used Xylitol but wnat to try it, especially on a couple of my children who tend to be the ones that get cavities.

But, one word of caution that I got off of a large guardian dog yahoo group: Xylitol is very, very poisonous to dogs. All they have to do is get one piece of Xylitol gum and it sends their insulin level sky high and will cause death if not treated immediately by a vet who knows about Xylitol poisoning.

If you have pets, please keep your Xylitol away where they can't find it.

Laralee
http://PlymouthRockRanch.com
Recording the Faithfulness and Provision of God for Future Generations

Hi Tammy,

Thanks so much for this post. The link to Zellies.com was great and I placed an order. I have been looking forever for a 100% Xylitol gum and mints.

I went out and picked up the Closys and will use it all in order. We already had the Listerine and ACT.

I just found your blog and really am enjoying the posts and recipes.

Marion

You've mentioned xylitol before, and since then I have been chewing xylitol gum quite often. I love the way it makes my teeth feel! I did a bit of research and for "normal" gum that you buy off the shelf, Ice Breakers Ice Cubes have the most xylitol (#1 ingredient) and the least aspertame. My favorite flavors are Kiwi-Watermelon, Dragonfruit Freeze and Peppermint. Besides using it to help with my teeth I have also been using it as a weight loss tool to help me avoid snacking. It has been working well on both counts. :-) Thanks for the reminder to keep it up!

I think we got our granulated xylitol for around $5 a pound from Vitacost which is pretty cheap...and the shipping is only 4.99 no matter how much you order so if you plan on ordering other things as well it does make it cost effective. We also ordered some gum, not the zellies but Spry. Which we can also purchase locally at a health food store...haven't figured out if that is cheaper yet. Anyway, thanks for the update and all...we are noticing improvements. My teeth definitely feel cleaner!

I ordered my Xylitol from Swanson vitamins, made in the USA. So much of the other, like NOW and XClear in from China. I called XClear as it is not on their pkg. but on Spry and they said, yes, from China. I ordered my Dr. Elle's recommended CloSYS from Amazon at about $20 for two 32 oz. bottles, free shipping if you order $25. I ordered Spry gum from The Vitamin Shoppe at a good price. I add a tsp. of Xylitol to water--sip, very good.

I say "We" because my DH and oldest boys use it, but I do not because it upsets my stomach too much. DH uses Biotene toothpaste which has Xylitol I believe. the boys use Tom's toothpast but use a water and Xylitol mix to rinse with after brushing and chew gum containing Xylitol. I do want to warn you though, one of my older boys was waking up in the middle of the night with stomach cramps and we finally narrowed down the cause to some mints that were made with Xylitol. So we do limit their consumption of the stuff and do not use it as a "sweetener" for anything we make at home. My husband loves it though and uses it all the time without problems. He got his Xylitol in bulk online somewhere, but I can't remember where. Sorry.

Here is a question that may sound simple, but I haven't seen an answer anywhere yet. Is it the consumption of the Xylitol that helps your teeth or is it the Xylitol coming in contact with your teeth that helps them? If I eat some Xylitol but it doesn't touch my teeth are they getting any benefit or do you have to actually like swish it around your mouth or chew it, etc. to get it to work? I have some gum with Xylitol in it and was wondering as you only usually chew gum with your back teeth not the front and I didn't know how much help the front teeth would get from chewing it.
Kate

Hi Kate!

Xylitol is good for the teeth for several different reasons. First, it neutralizes the PH balance in the mouth, making it a better environment for healthy teeth. It also "starves" the bad bacteria in the mouth (that same bacteria which produces the very harmful acids when it eats sugar!). And, xylitol encourages saliva production -- and saliva helps protect teeth too!

So chewing xylitol gum is great -- even though the gun doesn't get chewed in the front. :)

I have read that eating xylitol in foods is as effective as chewing xylitol gum or eating xylitol mints/granules. However, I think the teeth still would benefit from consuming xylitol AFTER the food has been eaten -- to kind of "clean" the mouth. :)

Xylitol causes me severe diarrhea and gas/cramping- sorry to be so graphic but sugar alcohols have a bad effect on my GI system. ugh

I was thankful to see this on your blog. My daughter and I both have "soft" teeth, as did my father. It seemed a never ending ordeal at the dentist for her and with 3 kids--I let a lot of my dental care go to afford theirs. I'm getting the stuff to try the system. My husband thinks I'm crazy to eat sugar-but he's all for it if it works! Thanks

I have definitely been considering using xylitol for my homemade toothpaste (which doesn't have baking soda in it, Tammy, if you are interested). Your post got me thinking about it again and I will just have to try it with the next batch.

http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/08/going-fluoride-free.html

Lindsay

Hi Tammy,

I have made sugar cubes before, and it's very easy to do. I'm certain this would work for making your own zellie cubes. Just add 2 teaspoons of warm water to a cup of Xylitol. Blend with a fork until it looks like wet sand, and then pack into a mold (I use one of the mini-ice cube trays from the kitchen aisle at WM.) Once you've filled the tray, tamp them down well, and turn over onto a paper towel. I let mine dry overnight. :)

I also have a recipe for cream cheese mints that would work with powdered xylitol.

~Gwen

If you go to the Closys website there are instructions at the bottom of the page to get coupons for $3 off any closys toothpaste or rinse!!
And I think you can print up to four per month.

Thanks so much for sharing about zellies and xylitol. I found this site while overwhelmed about my son's teeth and we're going to give it a go. It sounds very logical and answers a lot of my concerns about traditional dental advice - drill it and fill it all!

After reading Dr. Ellie's site, I have a question about your homemade flavored xylitol. Dr. Ellie seems very opposed to introducing alcohol to the teeth as it increases acidity. I believe most (or all?) extracts are almost completely alcohol. Does this concern you, or did you decide it wasn't enough to worry about it?

Thanks again,
Gina

Hi Gina! :) So glad to hear that Dr. Ellie's information has given you hope about your son's teeth! :)

When I make my flavored xylitol, I don't use an extract. I use essential oils, which are alcohol-free (and highly concentrated, so be careful!). :) I've done orange and peppermint, and have plans of trying spearmint, tangerine, and lemon in the future. Only a few drops are needed to flavor 1/4+ cup of granulated xylitol. :)

Have a great week! :)

Just an FYI warning about Xylitol...it is fatal for dogs. We use it for baking as well and is good at clearning up ear infections as well as dental health as described. It is safe for diabetics and other with insulin resistant illnesses. Just be careful when it comes to your 4-legged Friends. We love xylitol, we're just careful. :)

Thank you so much for the idea about using the granulated xylitol instead of always using mints and gum. I am a dental hygienist and we are always encouraging our patients to use xylitol. The biggest drawback is the cost of the mints and gum if they want to get the right amount of xylitol for it to be effective. I can't wait to tell them about your way of using xylitol. What kid doesn't want to think they are getting to eat sugar!!!
I, too, love Dr. Ellie's information. She is the one who got me started researching xylitol. It is some pretty awesome stuff. The nasal spray is also great for sinus problems.

Hi Tammy!

I'm just a student making a study and experiment on homemade toothpaste. This page became helpful to me. I wanted to ask some suggestions about xylitol..... :))))))) I am not that sure about it.

in your recipe http://www.tammysrecipes.com/homemade_toothpaste

1. is stevia extract powder considered as Xylitol???

2. can i substitute mango seed powder to replace stevia powder? for toothpaste?

***Mango seeds have tannin as an active ingredient that dries the gums causing a tightening or strengthening appearance. This drying effect also affects germs within the oral cavity, if a germ is waterless it dies- this is where you get the potential for antibiotic effect.

Sophia :))

Hi! Would you mind sharing an update regarding how you like(d?) using this system? We're considering trying it in our family. Thanks! :)

-Annie (menueys at gmail dot com)

Looks like it is 4 years later, any update?
Are you still using Dr. Ellie "method"?
Still not using baking soda?
Manufacturers change products and recipes so frequently it's challenging to find the original Crest or non-alcohol containing products. Closys is still the same, as is Listerine. I think ACT has changed, and I can't find the original Crest anywhere. I wish Dr. Ellie would have said more what are the active ingredients she liked in those products, which would give folks a choice. If Closys prepares the month for brushing, I wonder if a solution of baking soda could do the same. You know, the old 80/20 try, at a fraction of the cost.

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