A study published in Caries Research shows that erythritol may be better for tooth health than sorbitol or xylitol. The three-year clinical study found that erythritol provided a significant reduction in cavities, dental plaque, and the oral bacteria Streptococcus mutans, considered a major cause of tooth decay.

Conducted by the University of Tartu’s Dept. of Stomatology, this is the first study to compare the long-term dental benefits of erythritol to two other polyol sweeteners. Polyols are sweetening compounds that contain fewer calories than sugar and do not promote tooth decay.

In the double-blind, randomized, controlled study, researchers followed 485 elementary school kids. Throughout the three-year period, the children were given 2.5g of polyol candies three times per day during their 200 school days each year. One group got erythritol, the others received xylitol and sorbitol. The participants’ teeth were assessed using the International Caries Detection and Assessment System. Students in the erythritol group showed the greatest reduction in cavity development.

Researchers found that erythritol slowed the development of cavities and reduced the need for dentist intervention as compared to sorbitol and xylitol. Erythritol reduced dental plaque weight by 24% in a 3-year study period, while xylitol and sorbitol caused little to no change. Erythritol also lowered the levels of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria better than xylitol and sorbitol.

Erythritol occurs naturally in low amounts in fruits like grapes and pears, and in fermented foods, including cheese, wine, and soy sauce. It is produced commercially through a yeast fermentation process. Erythritol contains zero calories and has no glycemic effect. Because erythritol is similar in taste, sweetness quality, and mouth feel to sugar, it is used in a wide range of products, including oral healthcare, beverage, confectionery, bakery, and dairy products.

Source: Excerpt from September 16, 2014, Published in Caries Research


Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars we eat. When you drink or eat food containing ordinary sugar (sucrose), it gives bacteria on your teeth energy, allowing them to multiply and start making acids that can eat away the enamel on your teeth. This “acid attack” causes both tooth decay and cavities to begin to form.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With the dental benefits of Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. Most people are not aware of this benefit. Less bacteria, less acid – healthier teeth!

Because the bacteria in the mouth that is causing cavities are unable to digest Xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid-producing bacteria may fall by as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking Xylitol, the bacteria does not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases.

Research has shown that the use of Xylitol also helps repair damage to the enamel. Saliva in itself protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva in particular contains all the components needed to repair early cavities. If sugar is only taken a couple of times a day, the saliva can do the job alone. But most people take sugar so often that the mouth’s own defensive tools are not enough.

The dental benefits of Xylitol in the saliva is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking Xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque may rise, and plaque pH rises as well. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to move into those parts of enamel that are weak. Therefore, soft, calcium-deficient enamel sites begin to harden again.

While reversing a rising trend of negative health and high health-care costs won’t happen overnight, improving your own health can begin sooner than later, and the dental benefits of Xylitol can have a significant influence on that trend.

Source:, January 29, 2014